Journalist’s wife says ‘we can say goodbye with love’ after body found in Amazon

The wife of a British journalist killed in the Amazon has said his family can “say goodbye with love” after his body was found.

The remains of Dom Phillips and his companion, indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, were found near where the pair disappeared on 5 June, the Brazilian justice minister Anderson Torres said.

A suspect led investigators to the location of the bodies after confessing to the fatal shooting.

In a statement, Mr Phillips’ wife Alessandra Sampaio said: “Although we are still awaiting definitive confirmations, this tragic outcome puts an end to the anguish of not knowing Dom and Bruno’s whereabouts.

“Now we can bring them home and say goodbye with love.

“Today, we also begin our quest for justice. I hope that the investigations exhaust all possibilities and bring definitive answers on all relevant details as soon as possible.”

Brazilian authorities said the prime suspect in the case, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, nicknamed Pelado, said he used a firearm to kill the two men.

More on Brazil

Federal police said the remains had not yet been positively identified and said other arrests would be made soon.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May made a plea on Wednesday to her successor, Boris Johnson, in the House of Commons, saying the UK must do “everything it can” to press authorities in Brazil to uncover the truth about the disappearances.

In response, the prime minister said officials from the Foreign Office are “working closely with the Brazilian authorities”.

Sky News has contacted the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office for comment.

Earlier, the Brazilian ambassador to the UK apologised to Mr Phillip’s family after they were told his body had not been found.

According to The Guardian, the family were called from an aide to the ambassador on Monday saying bodies had been discovered tied to trees in the rain forest but Paul Sherwood, who is Mr Phillip’s brother-in-law, said ambassador Fred Arruda had written to the family to say the statement was incorrect.

Family ‘heartbroken’ but ‘greatful’

Following news that the bodies of the pair had been found, a statement posted on Twitter from the family said that they are “heartbroken at the confirmation that Dom and Bruno were murdered”.

They also paid condolences to the family of Mr Pereira.

“We are grateful to all those who have taken part in the search, especially the indigenous groups who worked tirelessly to find evidence of the attack,” the statement, which was posted on behalf of his sister Sian Phillips, brother Gareth Phillips, Mr Sherwood, his sister-in-law Helen Davies and nieces Domanique Daviester and Rhiannon Davies, added.

“In due course, we will offer our perspective on the courageous lives and important work of these remarkable men but for the moment, we request that representatives of the media allow the family some peace to deal privately with what has happened to their beloved Dom.

“We thank the many people who have joined us in urging the authorities to intensify the search and those who have reached out with wards of comfort and sympathy.”

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Police in Brazil searching for the missing British journalist and his colleague say a suspect has confessed to their killings.

‘Shocking’ incident for friends and family

Freelance journalist Mr Phillips, 57, and 41-year-old Brazilian Mr Pereira were last seen on 5 June near the entrance of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, which borders Peru and Colombia.

Henrique Cury, a friend of Mr Phillips, told Sky News that the incident was “shocking” for Mr Phillips’ Brazilian wife, his British family and all his friends.

“He made many friends throughout the country. Dom was a very sweet and gentle person. To have this ending is very shocking for all of us.”

He said it was typical of Mr Phillips to have decided to travel again before beginning work on his book.

Read more:
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Pele joins calls for Brazil to ramp up search
Officials link disappearance of British journalist in Brazil to ‘fish mafia’

He spoke to him a week before he set off and asked him why, if he had travelled extensively in the north of the Amazon, he was now also heading to the west.

“He told me ‘I want to see the whole picture’. He wanted to show the world all the sides the Amazon consisted of… to get a very human vision of what was happening.”

Mr Phillips has reported on Brazil for more than 15 years for newspapers including The Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Financial Times.

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