by Staff Writers
Brasilia (AFP) Sept 20, 2013
A court in Brazil said Friday it upheld the conviction of one of two ranchers blamed for ordering the 2005 murder of US nun and Amazon defender Dorothy Stang.
Landowner Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura had already been tried three times and sentenced to 30 years for the killing of the 73-year-old American.
Stang was shot on February 12, 2005 in the town of Anapu, 700 kilometers (450 miles) from the Para state capital of Belem in northern Brazil after meeting with landless peasants to discuss an ecological project.
Local ranchers accused her at the time of inciting landless farmers to invade their lands.
But in May, the Supreme Court quashed Moura's latest conviction. It argued that he was not given enough time to prepare his defense during the 2010 trial.
Late Thursday, the court in Belem upheld Moura's 30-year sentence. Activists of the Amazon landless movement cheered.
Another Amazon rancher, Regivaldo Galvao, was also sentenced to 30 years in jail in 2010 as a co-mastermind of Stang's murder.
He is currently in jail awaiting a court decision on his appeal.
Rayfran das Neves Sales, the self-confessed killer, was sentenced to 27 years in jail but was placed under house arrest in July after serving only eight years behind bars.
His accomplice, Clodoaldo Batista, was sentenced to 17 years in jail while Amair Feijoli, who acted as a go-between with the killers, got an 18-year term.
The high-profile Stang case became a symbol of the end of impunity for the killings of landless squatter farmers who often have clashed with big landowners, especially in the country's remote rural areas.
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