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Alessandra Sampaio, right, is comforted during the funeral of her husband British journalist Dom Phillips.
dom phillips

Murdered UK journalist laid to rest in Brazil

Dom Phillips was killed in the Amazon while researching a book about how to save the world’s largest rainforest.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY have paid their final respects to British journalist Dom Phillips who was killed in the Amazon while researching a book about how to save the world’s largest rainforest.

Speaking at a cemetery on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, his widow, Alessandra Sampaio, said: “First of all, 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.

“Today, Dom will be cremated in Brazil, the country he loved, his chosen home. Today is a day of mourning.”

Phillips, 57, and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, 41, were killed on 5 June on their boat on the Itaquai river, near the entrance of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, which borders Peru and Colombia.

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

The region has seen a long conflict between indigenous tribes and poor fishermen hired to invade the Javari Valley to catch arapaima, turtles and game.

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

“He was killed because he tried to tell the world what was happening to the rainforest and its inhabitants,” said Phillips’ sister Sian.

“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.”

Phillips wrote about Brazil for 15 years, first covering the oil industry for Platts, later freelancing for The Washington Post and The New York Times and then regularly contributing to The Guardian.

He was versatile but gravitated towards features about the environment as it became his passion.

After living in Rio for several years, the couple had moved to the north-eastern 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 Phillips, “we are sad he was denied the chance to share these qualities as a father for the next generation.”

The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, said: “Dom Phillips was a brave, passionate journalist who died doing a thing he loved – seeking out and exposing wrongdoing.

“His deep care for Brazil, its land and its people shone through powerfully in his insightful journalism for the Guardian and many other publications. His memory will live long, and the reporting he did will be continued by colleagues and friends.”

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