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Brazil man jailed for murdering nun Dorothy Stang

13 April 10 09:09 GMT

A Brazilian rancher has been convicted of murdering US nun Dorothy Stang in 2005 and jailed for 30 years, at his third trial over the case.

Vitalmiro Bastos Moura was sentenced to 38 years in jail at a first trial in 2007, but acquitted on retrial the following year.

Suspicions he had bribed a witness to change his testimony led the court to keep him in prison.

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

Moura ordered the killing of Ms Stang because she blocked him and another rancher from taking over land the government had given to small farmers, prosecutors said.

The verdict came late at night in the Amazon city of Belem, after the jury had deliberated for 15 hours.

Ms Stang, who was 73 when she was killed, worked in the Amazon for 30 years to preserve the rainforest and protect the rights of rural workers against large-scale farmers wanting to take their land.

She was shot dead as she walked along a muddy rainforest track in the town of Anapu in Para, a northern frontier state where loggers and ranchers have deforested huge tracts of rainforest.

The two confessed hitmen who killed her said Moura and another rancher still to be tried had paid them to do it.

"This conviction sends a strong message... that the impunity is ending,",, nun Rebeca Spires, who knew Ms Stang for 35 years, is quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Human rights groups say violence is a usual way to settle land disputes in the Amazon.

Many people have been murdered, but their killers rarely go to jail.

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