Church officials have welcomed the conviction of a Brazilian rancher in plotting the murder of Dorothy Stang, a US-born Catholic nun and land rights' activist in Brazil who was killed in 2005.
Chris Herlinger writes: The 1 May 2010 conviction of Regivaldo Galvão, in the Brazilian city of Belém, closes a chapter in a case that had drawn international attention over the issue of land rights in the Amazon rainforest.
Stang, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, a Catholic order founded in France, which works in 20 countries, including Brazil, was killed in 2005. She had been campaigning to preserve rainforest land sought by wealthy ranchers, specifically a plot that had been given by government decree to a group of poor Brazilian farmers. Stang had worked in Brazil for 40 years.
"The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur testify to the action of justice in the trial and sentence of Regivaldo Pereira Galvão," the religious order's US-based office in Massachusetts said in a 3 May statement. "The international congregation is in solidarity with and support of all who helped to bring this day of justice to Brazil."
Galvão was the fifth person convicted in the case. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting with another rancher who was also convicted recently of paying a hired assassin about US$28 000 for Stang's murder. The other rancher, Vitalmiro Moura, was sentenced on 13 April. Three other men, including the gunman, Rayfran das Neves Sales, were previously convicted and sentenced.
Stang was shot repeatedly in February 2005 while working in the town of Anapu in Para, often described as a lawless, frontier state where deforestation has become common. In 2008, Stang was honoured posthumously with the United Nations' Prize for Human Rights.
Her religious order said: "For the first time in the history of Pará, all those indicted for assassination in a land conflict were brought to trial and convicted for criminal activity in the Transamazon region."
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]