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Nun's murderer gets 27-year imprisonment

Relatives of the U.S. nun, the rain forest defender, were pleased with the 27-year sentence passed upon the killer who shot her dead in the Amazon jungle.

A jury of four men and three women voted unanimously late Monday to repeat the conviction of Rayfran das Neves Sales for the Feb. 12, 2005, killing of Dorothy Stang, said court spokeswoman Gloria Lima from the northern city of Belem.

Sales' received the same 27-year sentence he got at his first trial in December 2005. A second trial was held because Brazil grants an automatic retrial for any sentence longer than 20 years.

The victim's 70-year-old brother David Stang, who flew from his home near Colorado Springs to attend the trial, praised the judge and jury, but said he was still waiting for the trial of Regivaldo Galvao, one of two ranchers charged with ordering the killing.

"We feel justice was done at this level, but we won't have true justice until Regivaldo goes to trial," Stang said by telephone.

Galvao is free on bail and has managed to avoid trial through legal maneuvers before the country's Supreme Court.

Stang spent 30 years defending poor settlers in the violence-plagued Amazon state of Para. Prosecutors say two ranchers offered Sales and an accomplice US$25,000 (Ђ18,000) to kill her because of a dispute over a piece of forest they wanted to clear for pasture.

Sales acknowledged shooting Stang six times, saying he did so because the 73-year-old nun had threatened him and he feared for his life. Sales denied being offered money to kill Stang, though at other times he has testified that money was offered.

Sales apparently sought to clear rancher Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, who was convicted in May of ordering Stang's killing and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Moura's retrial has been postponed until next year because of health problems, court officials said.

Two accomplices convicted in the killing received sentences of less than 20 years and do not get retrials.

Stang, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, has evoked comparisons to Chico Mendes, the rain forest defender who was killed in 1988 in the western Amazon state of Acre.