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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – A fourth person has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the murders last month of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in the Amazon, authorities said Friday.
The man turned himself in to police to deny press claims that he may have ordered the killings, Amazonas state police chief Eduardo Fontes told reporters.
He was arrested for allegedly presenting false identity papers.
Fontes said the man, known as “Columbia”, told police he was buying goods from fishermen in the area where the killings took place.
He said one of his suppliers was Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, known as “Pelado”, who is under arrest after confessing to his role in the crime.
Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, were shot dead as they returned from an expedition to a remote region of rainforest plagued by drug trafficking, illegal gold mining and fishing .
Phillips, the author of dozens of articles on the Amazon and a longtime contributor to The Guardian newspaper and other major news outlets, was traveling to the Javari Valley as part of research for a book coming.
Pereira served as his guide and had previously traveled with him in the area.
A staunch defender of indigenous rights, Pereira had received multiple death threats before his death.
Police are investigating a possible link to illegal fishing on protected indigenous land as the motive for the murder.
“We are investigating whether this person known as ‘Colombia’ (…) is involved in an illegal fishing program, whether he is financing” this activity, Fontes said, adding that the man had denied any involvement. .
“We don’t know what his true identity is,” Fontes added.
The man had documents from Brazil, Colombia and Peru, each under a different name, he said.
Three men are under arrest for the murders and five others are charged with helping dispose of the bodies, which were found 10 days after the couple disappeared.
© 2022 AFP