Latin America & Caribbean

Rancher convicted over murder of US nun Dorothy Stang

American nun Dorothy Stang was shot six times over a land dispute.
Image caption American nun Dorothy Stang was shot six times over a land dispute

A Brazilian court has convicted a rancher for ordering the murder of an American nun over a land dispute - a case that caused international outrage.

It is the third time Vitalmiro Bastos Moura has been tried for Dorothy Stang's 2005 death after previous convictions were overturned.

Ms Stang, 73, campaigned for 30 years to save rainforest from the interests of wealthy landlords.

She had tried to block Moura's attempts to seize land and was shot six times.

Moura, who was convicted in 2007 and 2010 in verdicts that were subsequently overturned, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In the latest trial, the judge said Moura had acted in a cold-blooded and cowardly manner.

Prosecutors earlier said Moura and another rancher had hired gunmen to kill Ms Stang. Moura's lawyers argued there wasn't enough evidence linking him to the crime.

The death of Ms Stang in the northern state of Para became a symbol of the violent conflict for natural resources in Brazil's Amazon region.

In the past 30 years, more than 1,000 people have been killed in land disputes in Brazil, with some two-thirds of the murders happening in Para.

Ahead of the latest verdict, Ms Stang's sister, Barbara Richardson, said the repeated trials had been upsetting but had helped maintain a spotlight on the issues.

"That keeps the injustice of the system before the people's eyes," she told AP. "Dorothy is ever prominent. The people understand what happened to her and what this means."

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