Brazilian prosecutors charge three men for murder of British journalist

People attend a memorial service for British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRASILIA (REUTERS) - Federal prosecutors in Brazil on Friday (July 22) charged three men for the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, a crime that drew widespread attention to increasing lawlessness in the Amazon rainforest under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.

A federal court in Amazonas state accepted the charges against Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira and Jefferson da Silva Lima, according to a statement.

The trio were already under arrest and will remain in detention.

Phillips and Pereira disappeared in early June in the Javari Valley, a remote area on the border with Colombia and Peru.

Amarildo and Jefferson have confessed to the crime, according to the statement.

Pereira, a former senior official at the federal indigenous affairs agency Funai, had previously clashed with Amarildo over illegal fishing within the indigenous territory.

"What motivated the murders was the fact that Bruno had asked Dom to photograph the suspect's boat," said the statement.

The prosecutors added that they considered this motivation to be "frivolous," a designation that can make sentences more severe under Brazilian law.

Phillips, who was in the region doing research for a book, was killed so that he could not identify the killers, prosecutors said. It was not immediately possible to contact the suspects or their lawyers.

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