Brazil Apologizes for Misinforming Missing Man's Family

Bodies were not found, ambassador says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2022 12:31 PM CDT
Updated Jun 15, 2022 6:16 AM CDT
Family: Bodies Found in Brazil Are 'Likely' Missing Men
A demonstrator holds a poster on June 12 with the images of British journalist Dom Phillips, left, and Bruno Pereira, an expert on Indigenous affairs, who were last seen in Brazil on June 5.   (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

Update: Brazilian authorities on Tuesday said the family of a British journalist who went missing in the Amazon had been incorrectly informed that two bodies, likely the journalist and the Indigenous expert who vanished along with him, had been found. "We are deeply sorry the Embassy passed on to the family yesterday information that did not prove correct," Fred Arruda, the Brazilian ambassador to the UK, wrote in a note to family members obtained by the Washington Post. “Information received from investigating officials misled the multiagency team at the Embassy. ... I wholeheartedly apologize." Also Tuesday, Brazil's federal police announced they had arrested a second suspect in the men's disappearance: another fisherman, the brother of the first suspect arrested, the AP reports. Our original story from Monday follows:

A day after the news that personal items belonging to missing UK freelance journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira had been found in a flooded part of the Amazon rainforest, a grim update. An aide to Brazil's ambassador to the UK reportedly called Phillips' family on Monday and informed them two bodies had been found. "He didn't describe the location and just said it was in the rainforest and he said they were tied to a tree and they hadn't been identified yet," Paul Sherwood, Phillips' brother-in-law, tells the Guardian.

A well-known Brazilian eco journalist backs up the family's claim, telling the BBC that Phillips' wife had told him that bodies had indeed been found. Sherwood tells the Washington Post that the aide, identified as Roberto Doring, had told him "it was likely to be Dom and Bruno," even though Doring couldn't officially verify it. "No one has rung me since," Sherwood adds. Federal police are throwing cold water on the news, saying in a statement that it's "without merit." "As was previously stated, biological materials and personal belongings of the missing men were found and are being examined," officials say of the clothes, boots, and other items belonging to the two men that were discovered Sunday.

"As soon as any finds are made, the family and the media will be immediately informed." Police have arrested Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, a local fisherman who'd allegedly threatened the men, as a suspect in their disappearance. Phillips and Pereira have been missing since June 5. Family members and Indigenous groups speculate the pair's support for Indigenous rights, specifically as they relate to illegal fishing in the area, may be behind their vanishing. (Read more Brazil stories.)

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