Brazil: Rancher released after conviction in killing of US nun


Members of non-governmental organizations pay tribute to US nun Dorothy Stang in Brasilia on June 7, 2005. Stang was killed on February 12, 2005 in Pará, north of Brazil.



SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil's Supreme Court ruled that Amazon rancher Regivaldo Galvão be released during his appeal process after he was convicted in 2010 of ordering the killing of US nun and rainforest activist Dorothy Stang.

A 2010 jury found Galvão guilty of ordering Stang's death and sentenced him to 30 years in jail, according to the Associated Press. He was imprisoned one year later when a Pará state court ruled that he start serving his sentence before his appeal process came to an end. He has since been freed on appeal and was said to be released on Wednesday.

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Galvão wasn't the only one convicted in Stang's murder. The AP also reported that Vitalmiro Moura is now serving a 30-year jail term for ordering the nun and rainforest activist's killing, and two other men charged with taking part in her murder are also in jail. Another man is still at large.

In 2005, Stang was gunned down with six, close-range shots from a revolver in the northern Brazilian state of Pará, notorious for land-related violence, environmental destruction and contract killings, reported Fox News. Killings over land have become common in Brazil and are rarely punished, as landowners and farmers clash with environmental activists and native populations for control over possibly lucrative farming and logging land.

Stang had spent 30 years in the Amazon trying to preserve the rainforest and defending the rights of poor settlers, who were up against powerful ranchers seeking their moneymaking land on Brazil's wild frontier, said The New York Times.

According to watchdog group the Catholic Land Pastoral, more than 1,150 rural activists have been murdered in Brazil over the past 20 years, with fewer than 100 cases going to court since 1988, reported the AP. Of those cases, only 15 of the men who ordered killings have been found guilty.