‘Human remains’ found in search for Brit journalist missing in Amazon rainforest

Fears have been heightened even further for the wellbeing of a British freelance journalist who disappeared, following the discovery of “apparently human” remains in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira went missing last week, but the uncovering of “organic material” in a river where they were last seen, along with blood on a suspect’s boat, has led local police to detain a fisherman on a charge of illegal possession of restricted ammunition, while also to find out whether he was involved in the pair’s disappearance.

A judge has ordered the suspect – named as Amarildo da Costa – to be held for another 30 days while police continue their investigation, said a lawyer for a local indigenous group, the Daily Mirror reports.

Eliesio Morubo, the lawyer for the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley, said the judge agreed to keep the fisherman jailed for 30 days because the case involved a possible “heinous crime” such as murder and hiding bodies.

Federal police say the “organic material” is being sent for forensic analysis, along with the blood.

According to the cops, Costa was one of the last people to see Phillips and Pereira on Sunday (June 5), when they went missing after visiting the fisherman’s riverside community of Sao Gabriel.

The Brazilian armed forces have orchestrated search teams in the remote area of the country close to Peru, with around 150 soldiers being deployed by riverboats to hunt for the missing men and to interview locals.

The Brazilian government were criticised in the early days of the pursuit for not doing enough, with footballing legend Pele urging president Jair Bolsonaro to step up the search.

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Pereira often clashed with poachers and illegal fishermen in the area and these remain the primary focus for the police.

Meanwhile, Costa’s family and lawyers have denied his involvement the men’s disappearance and that he fished legally on the river.

Phillips and Pereira were on a reporting trip in the remote jungle area on the country's border with Peru and Colombia, that is home to the world’s largest number of uncontacted indigenous people.

The wild and lawless region has lured cocaine-smuggling gangs, along with illegal loggers, miners and hunters.

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