Dom Phillips: Four witnesses interviewed by Brazilian police as criminal investigation launched into missing British journalist | World News

Brazilian police have launched a criminal investigation into the disappearance of a British journalist in the Amazon jungle.

Dom Phillips went missing on Sunday with Bruno Araujo Pereira, a local indigenous expert and former government official whose job was to protect Brazil’s uncontacted tribes.

Officers have interviewed at least four witnesses believed to be among the last to have seen Mr Phillips, a freelancer who has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other publications.

Guilherme Torres, the head of the interior department of Amazonas state’s civil police, told Reuters news agency that Mr Pereira had recently received a threatening letter from a local fisherman who police were trying to locate.

He said his colleagues had interviewed two fishermen as witnesses on Monday, with two more quizzed on Tuesday.

The first two witnesses had not provided any useful information, and Mr Torres had no details as yet about the second two interviews.

“We are indeed working with the hypothesis that a crime might have occurred, but there is another, much larger possibility, that they’re lost,” Mr Torres said.

“Now, our priority is to find them alive, especially in these first hours. In parallel, a criminal probe has been opened to see if there was some crime committed.”

The Brazilian navy and army have both dispatched search teams in boats and helicopters in a bid to search for the pair – supported by federal and state police officers.

Mr Phillips and his guide went missing on Sunday during a reporting trip in the Javari Valley.

On the border of Peru, the vast region is home to the world’s largest number of uncontacted indigenous people and is
threatened by illegal miners, loggers, hunters, and coca-growing gangs who make the raw material for cocaine.

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