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Learning English - Words in the News
16 May, 2007 - Published 14:02 GMT
Brazilian guilty of murdering American nun
Dorothy Stang

A Brazilian landowner has been found guilty of organising the killing of the American nun Dorothy Stang in Brazil in 2005. The 73-year-old missionary had been working in the state of Para when she was shot dead as she walked along a path. This report from Gary Duffy:

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The murder of Dorothy Stang caused an international outcry and the conviction of one of the men accused of ordering her killing will be welcomed by human rights groups in Brazil. Vitalmiro Bastos Moura had always denied being one of the organisers of the attack.

The man convicted in 2005 of actually shooting the American-born missionary gave evidence in court in support of that denial. But after a two-day hearing, Moura was found guilty and now faces thirty years in jail. The judge said Moura showed a violent personality, unsuited to living in society and that the killing was carried out in a violent and cowardly manner.

Dorothy Stang spent over twenty years of her life working for the rights of poor settlers, struggling against large landowners in the state of Para in the north of Brazil. She refused to leave, even after her name appeared on a death list.

In the last thirty years, more than a thousand rural workers and activists have been killed in land disputes in Brazil, seven hundred and seventy-two of those in Para. The convictions of those accused of ordering killings are rare. Outside the court, Dorothy Stang's brother welcomed the verdict and said he thought justice had been done. Another landowner accused of ordering the killing will go on trial later this year.

Gary Duffy, BBC News, Sao Paulo

Listen to the words

an international outcry
a strong expression of anger or protest from people or organisations around the world

when someone is found guilty of a crime by a court of law

human rights
the civil liberties which most governments think all people should have, such as justice, the freedom to say what you think, the freedom to worship the religion you choose etc.

said that something is not true

person who goes to another country to try to convert the people there to his or her religion

unsuited to
not able to get along with something or someone

a death list
a list of people's names that someone wants to kill or be killed

people who believe strongly in political or social change and who complain, march or protest to try to make change happen

welcomed the verdict
was pleased about the decision the court made

justice had been done
a fair, just or correct conclusion had been reached

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