The man whom a jury convicted a year ago as a mastermind of the murder of the Amazon sustainable development advocate and Roman Catholic nun Dorothy Stang will walk free.
A second trial in regional court, required under Brazilian law, led to the acquittal of Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, a wealthy rancher who allegedly offered as much as $25,000 to kill Sister Dorothy because she opposed the encroachment of ranching and logging in the jungle, according to the New York Times.
Stang was shot dead in February 2005 at the age of 73. The man who pulled the trigger, Rayfran das Neves Sales, is serving a 28-year sentence, and was the key to both trials of the alleged mastermind. In the first, he said he was paid to kill, but in the second he said he acted alone.
The storyline echoes that of Chico Mendes, the Brazilian rubber tapper who fought for human rights and sustainable use of the forest, just as Dorothy Stang did. Like Stang, he was killed, in 1988. They are well-known, but not alone, as the Times points out: "As many as 800 settlers, union members and priests have been killed in Para [the Amazon frontier region] in disputes over land in the last 30 years, according to the Catholic Churchs Land Pastoral, which monitors land violence in Brazil."
The verdict holds up greed and violence above human rights, dignity and the environment.
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