Rio de Janeiro, Sep 21 (IANS/EFE) A land baron, held responsible for the murder of a US nun and an environmental activist in Brazil, has been sentenced to 30 years in jail.
The Ohio-born, Dorothy Stang, 73, had spent three decades for preserving the rainforest and defending the rights of poor settlers who confronted powerful ranchers seeking their lands in the Amazon’s wild frontier.
She was shot six times at point-blank range Feb 12, 2005.
Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura had ordered Stang’s murder in association with another big landowner, Regivaldo Pereira GalvÃ£o, who was sentenced in 2012 to 30 years behind bars.
The verdict was announced Thursday night by Judge Raimundo Moises Alves Flexa in the northern Brazilian state of Para, following the fourth trial of Moura for the nearly nine-year-old crime.
Convicted in May 2007, Moura was given a second trial under a law that automatically provides for new proceedings if a sentence exceeds 20 years.
The second trial, concluded in May 2008, undid the conviction. But prosecutors appealed to a higher court, which threw out the acquittal in April 2009 and ordered Moura re-arrested.
The third trial resulted in the re-instatement of the original conviction and a 30-year sentence for the landowner, though he was allowed to serve his time under a relaxed regime involving limited periods in custody.
Confessed shooter Rayfran das Neves Sales is already serving a 27-year sentence, while two other defendants were sentenced to 17 and 18 years in prison respectively.
Stang settled in Brazil in the 1970s and distinguished herself by working to defend the Amazon against exploitation by industry, logging interests and landowners.
Stang’s murder prompted then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to send 2,000 troops to the northern Brazilian state of Para, notorious for land-related violence, to deal with violent land disputes that claimed more than 700 lives over three decades.