Brazil’s federal police said Saturday that a third suspect in the deaths of British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira has been arrested. The pair, whose remains were found after they went missing almost two weeks ago, were shot to death, according to an autopsy.
Phillips was shot in the chest and Pereira was shot in the head and the abdomen, police said in a statement. It said the autopsy indicated the use of a “firearm with typical hunting ammunition”.
Police said the third suspect, Jefferson da Silva Lima, known as Pelado da Dinha, turned himself at the police station in Atalaia do Norte in the Amazon.
Police said the suspect will be referred to a custody hearing.
Two other men are already in prison for alleged involvement in the killings: Amarildo Oliveira, known as Pelado, and his brother, Oseney de Oliveira, known as Dos Santos.
Phillips and Pereira were last seen 5 June on their boat on the Itaquai River, near the entrance of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, which borders Peru and Colombia.
On Friday, federal police said that human remains found in Brazil’s remote Amazon have been identified as belonging to Phillips, 57.
Additional remains found at the site near the city of Atalaia do Norte were confirmed to belong to Indigenous expert Pereira, 41, according to the police statement on Saturday.
The remains were found on Wednesday, after fisher Pelado confessed to killing the pair, and took police to the place where he would have buried the bodies. He told officers that he used a firearm to commit the crime.
The remains had arrived in the capital city of Brasília on Thursday for forensic examinations.
The area where Phillips and Pereira went missing has seen violent conflicts between fishers, poachers and government agents.
The sister of Phillips has said her brother knew the risks of travelling to perilous regions of the Brazilian Amazon but continued to report from the area because he was committed to telling the story of Indigenous people and the fight for development models that may save the rainforest.
Sian Phillips said her brother believed his work on a book called How to Save the Amazon was “urgent”.
“I think he underplayed the risks to some extent but we knew that there were risks,” Sian told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“This was the final trip [for his book]. This was the trip with Bruno to give the story of the Indigenous people living in the Javari valley and to give their story,” she said.
“He also believed it was urgent. And that there wasn’t time to change the model of capitalism – it had to happen within the society that Brazil has.”