The vanished British journalist and Indigenous affairs expert who went missing in a remote region of the Amazon are unlikely to be found alive, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday, adding that he believes some “malice” was done to them.
Brazilian Federal Police on Sunday said it had found personal belongings of veteran correspondent Dom Phillips and Brazilian researcher Bruno Araújo Pereira, and that “biological traces” had been found and are now being analyzed.
Phillips and Pereira went missing on June 5, during a trip in the Javari Valley, in the far western part of Amazonas state.
The missing pair were conducting research for a book project on conservation efforts in the region, which authorities have described as “complicated” and “dangerous,” and known to harbor illegal miners, loggers, and international drug dealers.
They had reportedly received death threats just days prior to their disappearance.
“The evidence leads us to believe that some malice was done to them, because human viscera has already been found floating in the river, which is already in Brasilia for DNA testing,” Bolsonaro said during an interview with CBN radio on Monday morning.
Bolsonaro also said the odds of finding Pereira and Phillips alive are slim.
“The evidence points to the opposite at the moment,” he said.
Blood was found in a boat owned by a suspect in the pair’s disappearance last week, according to authorities.
In a news conference Wednesday, Amazonas state security Secretary-General Carlos Alberto Mansur said the man was arrested after being found in possession of “a lot of drugs” and ammunition used for illegal hunting.
Police have questioned five other people in connection to the missing pair, he said.
Authorities also said Wednesday they were pursuing several lines of investigation, including homicide, and added they still “can’t rule out anything.