Brazilian court maintains sentence of one of nun’s killers

SAO PAULO, Brazil – A court in the Brazilian state of Para upheld the prison sentence of Rayfran das Neves Sales, who was convicted of killing U.S. Sister Dorothy Stang in Brazil in February 2005.

Sales was convicted and sentenced to 27 years in prison for the murder of Sister Dorothy, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Brazil grants an automatic retrial for any sentence longer than 20 years in prison.

Sales told the court during a one-day retrial Oct. 22 that he acted alone, and killed Sister Dorothy because she had threatened him.

Gloria Lima, a Para court official, told The Associated Press that Sales denied he was ordered to shoot Sister Dorothy as an attempt to get a lighter sentence.

Prosecutors have said the 73-year-old nun – a native of Dayton, Ohio, and a naturalized Brazilian citizen – was killed because of her project on the sustainable development of the Amazon region, which bothered many of the large landowners in the area.

Sales and Clodoaldo Batista shot Sister Dorothy in a deserted stretch of road outside the village of Altamira.

The retrial of Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, the man accused of paying for her murder, has been postponed until early next year.

The middleman who hired them, Amair Feijoli da Cunha, known as Tato, received an 18-year jail sentence in May 2006.

A fifth man, rancher Regivaldo Pereira Galvao, who is said to have also paid for her murder, has yet to be tried.