Brazil: rancher convicted of killing missionary nun

 A jury in the Brazilian state of Para has convicted a wealthy rancher of ordering the killing of landless people's champion, Sr Dorothy Stang. The 73-year-old American nun lived for more than two decades in the region and had become legendary as a defender of the poor and landless. In February 2005, she was shot six times at point-blank range on a muddy track five hours' drive from her home in Anapu, a sprawling settlement of 30,000 at the edge of the rain forest. The last five bullets hit her when she was already on the ground, investigators said. There have been hundreds on killings in Brazil over land disputes in recent years as ranchers have seized land and evicted thousands of peasants to make way for cattle rearing. But in the last three decades, authorities said, only a few convictions have resulted from almost 800 known killings. Human rights campaigners are welcoming the decision which marks the first time a large landowner in the region has been found guilty of a serious crime. Romeiro Batista Medeiros, a councillor for the Amazonian town of Anapu, where Sr Stang lived said: "Maybe this is the beginning of justice." Hundreds of people camped in the plaza outside the court while jurors heard the case against Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura. There was jubilation when it was announced that Moura had been sentenced to the maximum prison term of 30 years. "Maybe all these people will finally have some peace," said Sr Jane Dwyer, 66, who lived with Sr Dorothy in Anapu for almost a decade. "I just hope this opens up the door to justice in so many other cases of violence against the poor farmers of the Amazon," said Sr Dorothy's brother David Stang, 69, a former Maryknoll missionary. The family said they were disappointed Pope Benedict had not mentioned Sr Dorothy during his visit to Brazil, which ended Sunday. Source: Los Angeles Times/BBC

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