Brazilian jailed for killing US nun

Rancher hired men to kill the rights activist over a land dispute in the Amazon.

    Moura was convicted of ordering the
    killing after a two-day trial  [EPA]
    Hired gun
    The killer, Rayfran das Neves, his accomplice and an intermediary are already in prison serving between 18 and 27 years.
    Das Neves had implicated Moura, saying he and another rancher gave them $25,000 and the gun used to kill Stang. But he later recanted that testimony.

    A defence lawyer said it would not have
    cost more than $5,000 to kill Stang [AP]

    One defence argument was that the price was too high.


    "Everyone knows that killing someone in southern Para doesn't cost more than 5,000 reals [$5,000]," defence lawyer Americo Leal said.

    Ercio Quaresma Firpe, another defence lawyer, said his client would file an appeal.
    The verdict was welcomed as a triumph for justice in the lawless Amazon, where violent conflicts are common but punishment is rare.
    Stang's brother, David, said: "Today all society sees that justice was done in Brazil."

    Thomas, another brother, added: "Dorothy was accused of being a Christian and was one of the few people to have been found guilty."


    The verdict may pave the way for Regivaldo Galvao, the other rancher accused of ordering the killing, to stand trial.

    Galvao, who is richer and better connected than Moura, remains free on bail while his lawyers continue to file motions aimed at avoiding prosecution.


    Peasants celebrate


    About 200 settlers from Anapu, who built a makeshift encampment across from the court, celebrated the verdict, dancing in the afternoon rain.


    "I'm happy because she was a great woman and didn't deserve to be killed," said Eliete Prado, an elderly woman who made an 18-hour bus trip over dirt roads from Anapu to attend the trial.


    "This decision without a doubt will have an impact"

    Jose Batista Alfonso, Pastoral Land Commission

    Stang, a naturalised Brazilian originally from Dayton, Ohio, had been helping peasants threatened by loggers and ranchers around the jungle town of Anapu and opposing the destruction of the rainforest for the last 23 years of her life.
    Her killing drew world attention to weak policing and a chaotic judicial system which has defeated efforts to control the continent-sized jungle.
    A booming global demand for commodities such as beef and soya beans in recent years has increased the appetite for land in recent years.
    Illegal loggers, ranchers and miners often resort to using fake land titles and strong-arm tactics to claim land.
    'Chico Mendes'
    After the murder, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, called Stang another Chico Mendes, the rubber tapper and rainforest activist whose murder in 1988 galvanised the movement to protect the Amazon.
    Human rights defenders called the court decision "historic" in a state where nearly 800 people have been killed in land-related conflicts over the past 30 years.


    Jose Batista Alfonso of the church-based Pastoral Land Commission said the verdict was an important step.
    "Hundreds of assassinations have occurred in this state and only a few have gone before a jury. When a landowner is tried, that is important," he said.
    "We have many other well known cases in this region. This decision without a doubt will have an impact."


    Moura is only the fifth "mandante" or mastermind, of a land-related killing to be convicted and the only one behind bars.


    The judge said Moura must remain imprisoned pending appeal. But because he is a first offender sentenced to more than 20 years, he is automatically granted a new trial under Brazilian law.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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