The Brazilian federal police have indicted Marcelo Xavier, former head of the federal agency FUNAI (Fundação Nacional dos Povos Indígenas), on charges of indirectly contributing to the deaths of Brazilian activist Bruno Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips in the Amazon last June. Xavier had been nominated by former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and was removed from his position following the election of current president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The accusation against Xavier is that he failed to take effective measures to protect the employees of FUNAI (which deals with the rights of indigenous peoples) and that he failed to intervene to prevent a crime whose risk was known. In fact, Bruno Pereira had worked for FUNAI until 2019, when he had participated in an operation against the illegal trafficking of miners in the Vale do Javari region, the same one where he and Phillips were when they were killed. A colleague of Pereira’s who had participated in the same operation had been killed and Xavier had been warned of the risk of further violence against FUNAI members.
According to the reconstruction of the police, Pereira would have been killed for his work by Ruben Dario da Silva Villar, known as “Colombia”, the head of a criminal group, while Phillips would have been killed only because at that moment he was in the company of Pereira, with which he was researching for a book he was working on. The Brazilian federal police also arrested and charged three men for physically committing the murders and hiding the bodies.