Brazilian accused in nun's murder arrested

(CNN) -- A lengthy investigation into the erratic behavior of a Brazilian accused of ordering the murder of a 73-year-old American nun led to his recent arrest, a Brazilian prosecutor in the state of Para told CNN.

U.S. missionary sister Dorothy Stang as seen in 2004 working in the Amazon forest in Para, Brazil.

U.S. missionary sister Dorothy Stang as seen in 2004 working in the Amazon forest in Pará, Brazil.

Regivaldo Pereira Galvão was recently seen at what authorities say is the site of the 2005 slaying of Sister Dorothy Stang to pressure peasants there into giving him the property rights, said federal prosecutor Felício Pontes Tuesday.

The site is located in a 7,400 acre plot known as "Lot 55" that is under dispute in the Amazon.

Police arrested Galvão Friday on charges of land fraud and slavery. He is already facing a conspiracy to murder charge in connection with Stang's death.

Before her death, Stang had defended the right of landless peasants by giving them access to public land and promoting sustainable farming practices that would help halt deforestation. Her land distribution project, the Project for Sustainable Development (PDS), has received praise by officials with the Brazilian government.

"Sister Dorothy's PDS project is the very most successful land reform project in the Amazon," said Pontes, adding, "It has helped more than 300 settlers make a living in a sustainable way.".

A recently released film called, "They Killed Sister Dorothy," narrated by American actor Martin Sheen, has won international acclaim for its original, in-depth investigation of Stang's life and the details surrounding her murder.

The film contains exclusive interviews and information that will be used against the suspects, Brazilian investigators told CNN.

"This film has been very important for us. It not only explains the dilemma Brazilians are facing in protecting the Amazon, but it also contains interviews with the suspects which we will certainly use against them," said Pontes.

Aside from Galvão, five people have been accused in Stang's killing. Four have been convicted, and one has been acquitted.

Stang was gunned down along a muddy road near Lot 55 as she worked with the peasants.

Galvão's presence at Lot 55 adds to evidence against him in the murder case, Pontes said.

"We have been keeping an eye on him since he left prison, since he has always said he had nothing to do with that land, and therefore was not behind the murder of Sister Dorothy," Pontes told CNN.

"Now we nailed him, we know he lied and he did have a lot of interest in that allotment," he said.

Galvão sat in prison for a year after Stang's death while awaiting trial. He was released by Brazil's high court in 2006, though he is still awaiting trial.

Galvão has consistently denied illegally obtaining land and being involved in Stang's murder. He has also denied any involvement with Lot 55, which has been divided among poor settlers for Stang's sustainable farming projects.

"I'm deeply sorry about this whole tragedy, but I am also a victim of it," Galvão said in a statement from jail after his arrest in 2005 which was posted on a Web site that proclaims his innocence. "I'm innocent. I never stained my hands with any crime, or ordered anyone else to stain theirs."

Prosecutors accuse Galvão of forging land titles and forcefully seizing public lands under the government's law reform program.

Elizabeth Dowyer, a nun with the Sisters of Notre Dame where Stang was ordained, told CNN she was happy when she heard the announcement of Galvão's arrest.

"We are relieved in a sense because we knew he was also involved in slavery and he was an illegal land grabber," she said. "We also strongly believe he was involved in a consortium to grab that plot."

Dowyer, who also was involved in Stang's land reform movement in the Amazon, said Stang knew her would-be killers and even prayed for them.

"In her letters, she named the people she tried to mediate with. On the night before her death, she invited her own killers who bragged to the community of what they were about to do," she said. "She really believed people could change."

The day after the meeting, hired killers murdered her, Dowyer said.

Land reform is the crux of many of Brazil's social problems.

Most agricultural lands rest in the hands of a few wealthy landowners, who are engaged in export-crops like soy and sugar cane as well as cattle ranching, according to the Landless Peasant Movement in Brazil.

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Katine: End discrimination against women

International development secretary Douglas Alexander at a health clinic in Sierra Leone. Photograph: Reuters

Visit The Guardian's Katine page

Uganda's president has promised to do more for women. It is important that he does, says international development secretary, Douglas Alexander

Last year I visited the town of Gulu, in northern Uganda, to see how things had changed since the peace talks in 2006, which brought stability to the region for the first time in 20 years. A new maternity facility had recently been opened, and I spoke to women who were giving birth in a bed for the first time. Their stories were inspiring, and proof of the dividend that peace brings. But they are still the lucky few. Most women in Uganda have to give birth on the floor of their huts, without clean sheets or sterilised water. And up to 8,000 women die every year because of complications during childbirth, around 80 times the rate in the UK – deaths which could easily be prevented by a doctor or nurse.

If you travel south-east from Gulu for roughly 100 miles you reach Katine, where the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) and Farm-Africa, with the Guardian's support, are helping to provide basic healthcare, sanitation and education to improve the lives of the 25,000 people who live there. People like Alice, who is pregnant for the sixth time and is scared because her first four babies died and her fifth miscarried. Alice can't afford hospital fees, so she visits one of the Traditional Birth Attendants, which Amref has trained. Birth attendants can provide much needed care for pregnant women, and give them someone to turn to when they need help, but if there is a complication during the pregnancy Alice will need to see a doctor – requiring money she doesn't have.

Stories like Alice's are not uncommon. Too often women are left to fend for themselves during childbirth, without medical advice or proper support. In a country where almost a third of the population still lives on less than $1 a day, providing care for pregnant women and mothers isn't always considered a priority.

Part of the problem is that too often women are treated as second class citizens, and suffer neglect and abuse as a normal part of their lives. For a quarter of all women in Uganda, their first sexual experience is rape. Yet last year there were only five convictions for rape across the whole of the country. With 5 million women suffering domestic or sexual violence, Uganda not only needs changes in the law, it needs a change in people's attitudes to women.

The Guardian's work with Amref shows that education is central to helping women protect themselves. Educated women know their rights and can stand up for them. Rose, aged 13, goes to school in Katine, where she has been taught about contraception and sexual health. She said that many of her friends feel pressured to have sex because they get money for food and clothes from their boyfriends. Two of Rose's friends became pregnant while they were still at primary school. But Rose understands that the choices she makes now will affect the rest of her life, and she is determined to concentrate on her studies so that she can stand on her own two feet in the future.

Education can be costly, though, and for parents struggling to feed their families, sending their children to school is very expensive. The Ugandan government introduced free primary education in 1997 – a huge step forward. But secondary schools still frequently charge fees, which parents simply can't afford. The UK's Department for International Development is working with the Ugandan government to support free education, healthcare and sanitation. Together we are providing more schools and teachers, more hospitals and doctors, and helping to ensure that the poorest can access the basic services that here in Britain we all take for granted.

On International Women's day last March, Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, promised to do more for women. It is important that he does. Rose said she wants to wait until she is 20 to have children. I hope that by then Uganda will have come far enough that she can visit a doctor if there are complications during her pregnancy, and get medicine when her baby needs it. I hope she won't suffer as Alice has, seeing what should be a time of joy and hope turn into a terrible tragedy. No country can afford to let its women suffer in silence in this way. No country can win the fight against poverty if it discriminates against half the human race.

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BBC's Faces of the Year - The Women

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DuffySimone WallmeyerFiona ShackletonShannon MatthewsIngrid BetancourtFern BrittonYang PeiyiCarla BruniSarah PalinGeorgina BaillieChristine OhuruoguCheryl Cole

Some of the women who have made the headlines in 2008, clockwise from top left: Duffy, Simone Wallmeyer, Fiona Shackleton, Shannon Matthews, Ingrid Betancourt, Fern Britton, Cheryl Cole, Christine Ohuruogu, Georgina Baillie, Sarah Palin, Carla Bruni and Yang Peiyi.

If the credit crunch, which started in 2007, grew to become the story of the year, one face represents the turmoil of the financial meltdown better than any other - Simone Wallmeyer. The Frankfurt Stock Exchange broker's emotion-wracked face became a fixture on the front pages of many newspapers around the world. Behind her designer spectacles, Ms Wallmeyer's animated features seemed to reflect every bad twist and turn in the world economy. The 47-year-old broker with Germany's ICF securities bank thinks her fame may be partly to do with the fact that she sits in front of the share price index board. But she admits the adrenaline high caused by the markets crashing has caused her to "run the full gamut of emotions".

Presenting a far more beatific face to the world was the British singer Duffy. The 24-year-old diminutive blonde chanteuse from Bangor in north Wales headed a charge of female British soul talent with a retro feel. Duffy's album Rockferry was the biggest selling album of the year, outperforming Coldplay and Take That. It included her hit, Mercy, which was voted Song of the Year at the MOJO awards. Duffy, real name Aimee Duffy but never referred to as such except by friends, has also received three Grammy nominations. She has been compared to Dusty Springfield in both looks and voice and, like Dusty, has found fame in America. She has made 15 trips to New York and has sung at the legendary Harlem Apollo.

Emotions were in plentiful supply in court 34 of the Royal Courts of Justice earlier this year when Heather Mills poured a jug of water over the head of Fiona Shackleton. Ms Shackleton was the lawyer representing her husband Sir Paul McCartney in their divorce proceedings. But the 51-year-old legal eagle had the last laugh, convincing the judge that her client, the former Beatle, was worth only half of the £800m that Ms Mills alleged. Ms Mills asked for £125m, but was granted only £24.3m. It was another triumph for the woman whose charm, resoluteness and blonde looks have earned her the nickname Steel Magnolia. It was because of Ms Shackleton's high-profile success when acting for the Prince of Wales in his divorce case against Diana that McCartney is said to have chosen her.

If Heather Mills has become something of a hate figure in the British media, it is nothing compared with the mother of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews. Karen Matthews reported her daughter missing in February, made an emotional appeal to her "kidnappers" and had many of her neighbours in Dewsbury go looking for the child. In fact, Shannon had been abducted by Mrs Matthew's boyfriend's uncle, Michael Donovan, described in court as "inadequate", in connivance with Miss Matthews. Shannon was drugged, tethered and kept in the drawer of a divan bed. The debt-ridden mother had hoped to profit from a reward. The pair were convicted of abduction charges. The case, however, raised the lid on the extent of poverty, welfare dependency and child neglect in many of Britain's sink council housing estates.

There was nothing fake about the kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt. In 2002, nine months after announcing that she would run for President of Colombia, she was captured by the guerrilla group Farc and held for six years in the jungle. She and 14 others were rescued this year in a daring mission launched by her former rival, President Alvaro Uribe. During her captivity, she says she was "abused, insulted and tortured". She spoke to the BBC's Alan Johnston, himself a kidnap victim, about her struggle to maintain her self-respect, and said of her ordeal, "I've decided that there are things that will never be brought to the surface - that have to stay in the jungle."

TV presenter Fern Britton earned a good deal of praise in the tabloid press for losing some five stones in weight on a diet. Initially she said, "It's taken me two years and a lot of hard work." However, praise turned to criticism when it emerged she had had a gastric band fitted around her stomach, reducing the amount of food it could take. Viewers felt they had been misled and, in the resultant furore, Ms Britton missed four editions of her programme This Morning with "nervous exhaustion". She said that she had fudged the issue in case it encouraged people to undergo the procedure inappropriately.

A deception on a much grander scale was performed by the Chinese authorities at the summer Olympics in front of a worldwide audience of hundreds of millions. As part of the opening ceremony in the Bird's Nest stadium, a cute little nine-year-old Chinese girl named Lin Miaoke sang the Ode to the Motherland. Except she didn't. In fact, it was to have been performed by another child, seven-year-old Yang Peiyi. But at the 11th hour, little Yang was replaced because she wasn't photogenic enough. Instead, Lin Miaoke lip-synched Yang Peiyi's voice. An official declared, "The child on the camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression."

There's nothing unphotogenic about Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, France's first lady as of February this year when she tied the knot with French president Nicolas Sarkozy. A month later the former supermodel went on to wow the British public accompanying her husband on a state visit to Britain. The media positively frothed at the mouth in describing her elegant beauty. Her charm offensive was not restricted to matters of state. In September, she appeared on the BBC's Later… with Jools Holland programme singing songs from her recent album, Comme Si de Rien N'Etait. Later, she told French TV that her wedding to President Sarkozy was decided just two days in advance, and that she had practised curtsying to The Queen with singer Marianne Faithfull.

Another woman who caused a stir in world politics in 2008 was Sarah Palin. John McCain catapulted her from the obscurity of Alaska on to the world stage when he chose her as his presidential running mate. When she joked, "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick", it seemed a large section of America instantly fell in love with her. A number of gaffes, the comedy impersonation by Tina Fey, and a family scandal involving her brother-in-law eventually saw Mrs Palin become more of a campaign liability than a benefit. Yet, many on the right of the Republican Party are backing her to become their presidential candidate in 2012.

Another figure that rose from obscurity in an unlikely fashion was Georgina Baillie. A member of a "horror burlesque" troupe named the Satanic Sluts, she found herself at the centre of a media scandal that resulted in comedian Russell Brand and Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas resigning from the BBC, while presenter Jonathan Ross was suspended. On radio, Brand and Ross had rung up Baillie's grandfather, Andrew Sachs, the actor best known for his role as Manuel in Fawlty Towers. In a message they left on his answer phone, Brand boasted of having slept with Sachs's granddaughter. Later, Miss Baillie told how her loving middle-class upbringing had given way to drugs and appearances in pornographic movies once her parents had split up. When asked what she had learned from this scandal, her reply was "Don't sleep with celebrities. Ever."

Christine Ohuruogu admitted she was so nervous before the Olympic 400m final that she barely slept. When the starting gun sounded, her main rival, American Sanya Richards, went off at a furious pace. But Ohuruogu timed her tactics to perfection, winning Britain's first 400m Olympic gold since Eric Liddell - of Chariots of Fire fame - won in 1924. It was a remarkable comeback for Ohuruogu who had been suspended for a year after three missed drugs tests. She then successfully challenged a ruling that barred her from competing at the Olympics. After the race she said, "The last 50 metres is when people start dying and everyone knows I don't die in the last 50 metres."

Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Cole received much public sympathy after tabloid speculation about the fidelity of her husband, footballer Ashley Cole. But her popularity has soared this year since she became a judge and mentor on the popular reality TV show, The X Factor. Her good looks combined with her warmth and sensitivity appeals to both sexes. She cries when empathising with contestants' sob stories, but is forthright and feisty when criticising performances. Cole herself auditioned for a reality TV programme as a nervous 19-year-old. According to PR guru Max Clifford, "She knows her subject because, professionally, she does exactly what she's judging…she's got a natural humility."

Compiled by Bob Chaundy.

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