Saturday, February 06, 2010

Man Who Contracted Dorothy Stang's Murder Back in Jail

This is excellent news:

A landowner accused of ordering the murder of American nun Dorothy Stang in the Amazon in 2005 is reported to be back in jail after turning himself in.

Vitalmiro Bastos Moura was originally convicted for the killing in 2007. The verdict was overturned a year later but he is now due to face a retrial.

The Brazilian report says he turned himself in after Brazil's Supreme Court refused Moura's request for habeas corpus, upholding the Para state court's ruling. Of course, the fact that Moura will get a new trial isn't fully encouraging - he's wealthy enough that he may be able to avoid a second conviction; the first conviction simply never should have been overturned in the first place. Still, this isn't completely hopeless; Moura was wealthy in the first trial, and was still found guilty; perhaps the outcome will be the same in the second. If nothing else, at least right now, the Supreme Court's ruling sends the message that wealthy landowners who hire poorer people to kill those trying to protect indigenous lands and the environment in the Amazonian basin will not remain immune from their murderous actions, and that alone is an important message to send. Hopefully, Moura will (once again) feel the full force of that message.