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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 April 2006, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Third man jailed for US nun death
Amair Feijoli da Cunha in court
Feijoli alleges two ranchers ordered the murder
A Brazilian court has sentenced a third man to a jail term for his part in the murder of a Catholic nun and peasants' rights activist, Dorothy Stang.

Amair Feijoli da Cunha, 38, acted as an intermediary between local ranchers and two men hired to kill the US-born nun.

Ms Stang's relatives welcomed the 18-year sentence but called for the two ranchers suspected of ordering the murder in the Amazon to go on trial.

Ms Stang campaigned against ranchers and big logging companies.

The 73-year-old from Dayton, Ohio, had spent the last 30 years of her life in the Amazon. She was found on a muddy track in the rainforest, shot six times, in February 2005.

The process against those who ordered this must be speeded up
David Stang
Brother of Dorothy Stang

The death followed a long-running dispute with ranchers over a patch of forest which they wanted to clear for pasture land, and Ms Stang wanted declared a sustainable development reserve.

Rayfran das Neves Sales has already been sentenced to 27 years in jail for shooting the nun. An accomplice, Clodoaldo Carlos Batista, was given 17 years in prison.

Courtroom allegations

During the day-long trial, Feijoli testified he offered money to the two convicted men to shoot the nun on the orders of two ranchers, Vitalmiro Moura and Regivaldo Galvao.

Dorothy Stang
Dorothy Stang spent decades defending peasant farmers
Both have been charged with involvement in the killing, but have yet to face trial. They deny the charges.

The jury rejected claims by the defence that Feijoli had been forced to hire the gunmen after the ranchers threatened his life.

Feijoli testified that:

  • Mr Galvao told him: "Until we put an end to this woman, we won't have peace on these lands"
  • Mr Galvao told him to offer $24,000 (13,500) to kill Stang
  • Mr Moura supplied the .38 calibre revolver used in the killing

"We're very proud of the jury, and with the judgement," said David Stang, the murdered nun's brother, who travelled from Colorado Springs to attend.

"But the most important is yet to come. The process against those who ordered this must be speeded up," he said, according to Globo Online.

More than 750 land activists are thought to have been killed in the Amazonian state of Para in the last three decades, but only nine killers have been convicted.

Convictions for those who orchestrate such killings are even rarer. This is often blamed on corrupt links between the region's landowners and loggers on one hand, and police and politicians on the other.

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