Brazilian police have arrested a second suspect in connection with the disappearance of British journalist Dom Philipps and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira as the probe opened on March 10.
The suspect, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, 41, was arrested Tuesday on alleged “aggravated murder” in connection with the case and “on suspicion of involvement in the case.”
Mr Oseneym, known by his nickname Dos Santos, was the brother of first suspect Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, 41, who has been in police custody since last week.
In a statement, police said they had seized ammunition and an oar from the riverside village of São Gabriel, where the two missing men were last seen. The items were sent for forensic analysis.
Speaking of Mr Oseney, Alex Perez, a police investigator, told reporters, “He did not resist arrest on suspicion of murder based on testimony placed by the two suspects at the alleged crime scene.”
Mr Phillips, 57, and Mr Pereira, 41, have been missing since June 5 after they were last seen in a remote part of the Amazon rainforest in the remote Javari Valley, the second largest indigenous area plagued by violent crime by illegal poachers becomes. Drug dealers and illegal miners.
Mr. Phillips, who was a long-time employee of the Guardianlived in the country for more than a decade and accompanied one of the country’s top indigenous experts to work on his book on protecting the Amazon.
The couple received death threats for their work in support of indigenous rights in the area a day before they disappeared.
The prime suspect in the case, Mr Amarildo, known as Pelado, was arrested on Thursday for allegedly carrying a firearm without a permit.
Police reportedly said Pelado was responsible for ambushing Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira as they were going down the Itaquaí River.
Indigenous people who were with the couple said Pelado pointed a gun at them before the two men disappeared.
Mr Amarildo has denied any wrongdoing and alleged torture by police to obtain his confession, according to the Associated Press.
According to a spokesman for indigenous group Univaja, which has been continuously searching for the men, the search for Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira is believed to be drawing to a close as the area to be searched has narrowed.
Eliesio Marubo, a lawyer for Univaja, said indigenous searchers tipped off authorities after spotting tracks of the men in the area.
During the investigation, police found a backpack and a pair of boots belonging to Mr Phillips, as well as a medical card, black trousers, a black sandal and a pair of boots belonging to Mr Pereira.
Last week, Brazilian police said traces of blood had been found in Mr Amarildo’s boat and were being tested.
The arrest comes a day after Brazil’s ambassador to the UK apologized to Mr Phillips’ family for wrongly informing them that the missing couple’s bodies were found tied to a tree.
Ambassador Fred Arruda said: “We deeply regret that the embassy released information to the family yesterday that turned out to be incorrect.”
He said the embassy was “misled” by information it received from “investigators” and that its thoughts were with the missing couple.