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Brazilian court upholds sentence in case of U.S. nun's killing

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Sister Dorothy Stang was gunned down in 2005
  • Nun from Ohio had worked to protect Amazon rain forest from ranchers and loggers
  • Regivaldo Galvao had appealed his 30-year sentence for his role in the killing
  • A judge has upheld Galvao's sentence

(CNN) -- A Brazilian court has upheld the 30-year sentence of a rancher convicted in the 2005 killing of an American nun who dedicated herself to protecting the Amazon rain forest.

Regivaldo Galvao was convicted in April 2010 but was conditionally released pending his appeal. After the judge upheld the sentence Tuesday, Galvao turned himself in to authorities, the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency reported.

Galvao was convicted of being one of the ranchers who ordered the killing of Sister Dorothy Stang, who was gunned down along a muddy road in northern Brazil's rain forest in 2005. Her killing was often seen as emblematic of the fierce struggle for land in the Amazon region.

The 73-year-old nun from Ohio worked for more than two decades in Anapu, helping poor farmers attain a sustainable living and protecting the rain forest from ranchers and loggers.

Several others are already serving sentences for the killing: Vitalmiro "Bida" Bastos de Moura, another rancher, was sentenced to 30 years last April in what was his third trial over Strang's death.

Yet another rancher, Amair Feijoli Cunha, is serving 18 years for his role. Rayfran das Neves Sales, one of two gunmen who confessed to shooting Stang, was sentenced to 28 years in prison without the possibility of an appeal.

The second gunman, Clodoaldo Carlos Batista, is serving 17 years.

Stang protected the rights of small rural producers in an area where conflicts over land were intense.

Galvao has the option to appeal to the country's highest court.