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Rancher cleared in nun's death

May 07, 2008|From Reuters

BRASILIA, BRAZIL — An Amazon cattle rancher previously convicted of ordering the killing of U.S. nun Dorothy Stang in a land dispute has been acquitted in a retrial, a court official said Tuesday.

The same jury convicted another man who confessed to firing the fatal shots but who disputed the circumstances.

Stang's death in February 2005 became a symbol of the often violent conflict over natural resources in the region. For more than 20 years she helped peasants threatened by loggers and ranchers, and opposed the destruction of the rain forest.

The jury absolved rancher Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura of ordering a gunman to kill Stang, a court in the Para state capital, Belem, said in a statement.

In a previous trial, he had been convicted and sentenced to a 30-year prison term.

The same jury sentenced Rayfran das Neves Sales, who confessed to killing Stang, to 28 years in prison, a year more than the sentence in his previous trial. Sales had tried to convince the jury that he had not been hired but shot Stang because he felt threatened by her.

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