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Brazil man accused of nun murder 'back in jail'

7 February 10 00:03 GMT

A landowner accused of ordering the murder of American nun Dorothy Stang in the Amazon in 2005 is reported to be back in jail after turning himself in.

Vitalmiro Bastos Moura was originally convicted for the killing in 2007. The verdict was overturned a year later but he is now due to face a retrial.

The killing in Para state caused an outcry in Brazil and internationally.

Dorothy Stang, 73, campaigned to preserve the rainforest and protect the rights of rural workers.

She had lived in Brazil for 30 years when she was shot dead as she walked along a muddy rainforest track.

Threats remain

Hundreds of people have been killed in land disputes in the same part of Brazil in recent decades with few prosecutions, reports the BBC's Gary Duffy, in Sao Paulo.

But there was widespread anger over the murder of the 73-year-old American missionary, he adds.

When Vitalmiro Bastos Moura was found guilty in 2007 of ordering the killing a judge said he had a violent personality which made him unsuited to living in society.

However, his conviction was overturned a year later and he had been living in freedom during protracted legal wrangling over the case.

A judge has now accepted that the landowner should return to jail to await a new trial - expected later this year - and he is reported to have surrendered to the police.

Even today there are missionaries who campaign on behalf of the poor in the Amazon region who face death threats and need police protection to do their work, our correspondent says.

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