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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK
Brazilian guilty of US nun murder
Dorothy Stang
Dorothy Stang was shot at point-blank range
A Brazilian rancher has been found guilty of killing US-born nun and environmental activist Dorothy Stang.

A court in the city of Belem sentenced Vitalmiro Bastos Moura, 36, to 30 years for paying gunmen to shoot the 73-year-old missionary dead in 2005.

Sister Dorothy campaigned for poor farmers' rights and to preserve the rainforest from loggers and developers.

Her murder followed a dispute with ranchers over land they wanted to clear for pasture and she wanted to protect.

'Justice done'

Judge Raymond Moises Alves Flexa imposed the maximum sentence.

He said Moura had showed "a violent personality unsuited to living in society" and that the killing had been carried out in a "cowardly manner".

Activists saw the trial as a test of whether the government could act to curb lawlessness in the Amazon.

Dorothy Stang's brother David, who was at the trial, said "justice was done".

Prosecutors said Mr Moura had ordered Sister Dorothy's killing because she had sent letters to the local authorities accusing him of setting illegal fires to clear land, which led to him receiving a substantial fine.

The Ohio-born nun had lived in the remote town of Anapu for more than 20 years, helping peasant farmers defend their land.

She was found dead on a muddy track in February 2005, shot six times at close range.

Three men - two gunmen and an intermediary - have already been convicted for the killing, but this was the first trial of someone who ordered it.

Another rancher charged with ordering the killing goes on trial later in the year.

In the past 30 years, more than 1,000 people have been killed in land disputes in Brazil, the BBC's Brazil correspondent Gary Duffy says - more than 770 of those in the state of Para.

Dorothy Stang's brother gives his reaction to the verdict

Rancher denies US nun's killing
14 May 07 |  Americas
Court frees Stang murder suspect
29 Jun 06 |  Americas
Third man jailed for US nun death
27 Apr 06 |  Americas
Amazon nun's killers are jailed
11 Dec 05 |  Americas
'No impunity' for Amazon killers
22 Feb 05 |  Americas
Murder prompts Brazil Amazon curb
18 Feb 05 |  Americas
Brazil farmers bury activist nun
16 Feb 05 |  Americas

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