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Brazil police skeptical of ‘apparently human’ remains found in hunt for reporter -sources -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A search operation is underway for British journalist Dom Phillips as well as indigenous expert Bruno Pereira. They disappeared from a remote area in the Amazon rainforest, near Per’s border.


Jake Spring

ATALAIA DO NORTE Brazil (Reuters) – Brazilian investigators doubt that remains found in a river are from a British journalist who was reported missing on Sunday in Amazon (NASDAQ) rainforest, according to two officers with the case.

Federal police reported Friday finding organic material that appeared to be human. This raised expectations for an eventual breakthrough in the hunt for Dom Phillips (reporter) and Bruno Pereira (travel companion), indigenous expert.

A federal detective and a detective from the state requested anonymity in the investigation. They said that the location of the material and its condition raise doubts as to whether or not it was connected with the disappearing men.

Federal police spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to our requests for comment.

Sources said that the remains were discovered near Atalaia Do Norte (a port located more than 60 km downstream of the spot where Phillips or Pereira last saw the river on slow-moving rivers). According to them, the condition of the remains suggested that it was scraps from nearby butchers rather than being transported further downstream.

The source stated that although it was likely that the material had come from an animal, it wasn’t human. But, he said that it had been sent for further forensic examination out of an abundance caution. One source stated that it would not be possible to determine the origin until after this analysis.

Witnesses reported that Phillips last appeared last Sunday as a freelance reporter for the Guardian or Washington Post. Pereira was his companion, who is an expert in local tribes and had served as a high ranking official for Funai the federal indigenous agency.

They were reporting from the isolated jungle region near Peru/Columbia, which is home to some of the largest uncontacted indigenous populations in the world. It is a wild and dangerous area that has lured illegal loggers as well as miners and hunters.

Globally, the disappearance of the pair has been echoed by icons in Brazil, including soccer star Pele and singer Caetanoveloso. They joined politicians, environmentalists, human rights activists, and President Jair Bolsonaro in asking him to intensify his search.

Reuters has been told by state police detectives that they will be focusing their investigation on illegal fishermen and poachers in the region. They have clashed with Pereira many times as he organised indigenous patrols at the reservation.

Amarildo da Costa, a fisherman known as Pelado, was taken into police custody on a weapon charge. They are also investigating whether he may have been involved in the disappearances of the other men.

Costa’s legal team and his family claim that Costa legally fished on the river. They also denied that he was involved in the disappearance of the men.

About 150 soldiers have traveled by riverboats from their homes to search for the two men, interview the locals and join the indigenous search team that has been seeking them since Sunday.