Funeral held for journalist Dom Phillips after murder in Amazon rainforest

British journalist Dom Phillips vanished from a remote part of the rainforest after reportedly last being seen on Sunday June 5. Credit: Dom Phillips/Twitter

The funeral service for Dom Phillips, a British Journalist who was murdered in the Amazon rainforest, took place on Sunday in Brazil.

Mr Phillips' widow, Alessandra Sampaio, said her husband was cremated in "the country he loved, his chosen home."

"Today is a day of mourning," she said at the Rio de Janeiro service.

The 57-year-old journalist and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, 41, were last seen on June 5 on their boat on the Itaquai river, near the entrance of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, which borders Peru and Colombia.

Brazilian authorities confirmed on June 18 that the remains of one of two bodies found buried in the rainforest was that of Mr Phillips.

British journalist Dom Phillips, right, and a Yanomami indigenous man walk in Maloca Papiu village, Roraima state, Brazil, 2019. Credit: AP

Three fishermen from nearby riverine communities were arrested. Two of them confessed to the murders, according to the police.

There has long been a conflict between Indigenous tribes and poor fishermen hired to invade the Javari Valley to catch arapaima, turtles and game.

Mr Pereira, who was an official of Brazil’s Indigenous affairs bureau, fought these invasions for years and had received multiple threats for his work.

“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,” Mrs Sampaio said at the funeral.

Alessandra Sampaio, second left, embraces her sister-in-law Sian Phillips, on the day of her husband's funeral. Credit: AP

Mr Phillips' sister Sian said of her brother: “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.”

Mr Phillips wrote about Brazil for 15 years, for publications that included The Guardian, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

He gravitated toward reporting about the environment as it became his passion.

After living in Rio for several years, the couple had moved to the northeastern city of Salvador, closer to Sampaio’s family, where Phillips taught English to students from poor communities. They were also in the process of adopting two children.

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

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