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Funeral of British journalist murdered in Amazon takes place in 'the country he loved'

The funeral of a British journalist murdered in the Amazon has taken place in Brazil.

Dom Phillips’ widow, Alessandro Sampaio, said he was being cremated in “his chosen home” during the service in Rio de Janeiro.

Mr Phillips, 57, and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, 41, were in the rainforest so the journalist – who worked for publications including The Guardian – could research his book.

The pair were last seen on their boat on the Itaquai River – near the entrance of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, which borders Peru and Colombia – on 5 June, disappearing shortly thereafter.

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Their bodies were found 10 days later.

An autopsy suggested they were killed by a “firearm with typical hunting ammunition”.

Three fishermen from nearby communities were arrested, and two have confessed to the murders, according to police.

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Speaking at the funeral, Ms Sampaio said: “First of all, I would like to express my eternal gratitude to the indigenous peoples, who are with us as loyal guardians of life, justice, and our forests.

“Today, Dom will be cremated in Brazil, the country he loved, his chosen home. Today is a day of mourning.”

There has been a long conflict in the region between indigenous tribes and poor fishermen hired to illegally work the area.

Mr Pereira, who worked for Brazil’s indigenous affairs bureau, fought against incursions by the fisherman and had received numerous threats.

Image:
Alessandra Sampaio

Mr Phillips’ sister, Sian, said: “He was killed because he tried to tell the world what was happening to the rainforest and its inhabitants.

“Dom understood the need for urgent change for political and economic approaches to conservation. His family and his friends are committed to continuing that work even in this time of tragedy. The story must be told.”

People arrive for the funeral of British journalist Dom Phillips who was murdered in the Amazon along with indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, at a cemetery in Niteroi, near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil June 26, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Image:
Mourners arriving at the funeral

After living in Rio de Janeiro for a number of years, Mr Phillips and Ms Sampaio moved to the city of Salvador, where he taught English to students from poor backgrounds.

They were also in the process of adopting two children.

“As we remember Dom as a loving, fun and cool big brother,” said Ms Phillips, “we are sad he was denied the chance to share these qualities as a father for the next generation.”

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