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Suspect Surrenders in Killing Of American Nun in Brazil

Associated Press
Sunday, February 20, 2005; Page A32

ALTAMIRA, Brazil, Feb. 19 -- A suspect in the killing of an American nun, who spent decades trying to protect the Amazon rain forest and its poor residents from loggers and ranchers, has surrendered to police, authorities said Saturday.

Amair Freijoli da Cunha was taken into custody after turning himself in to police in Altamira, a city about 80 miles from where Dorothy Stang, a 74-year-old member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Dayton, Ohio, was shot dead Feb. 12, police said.

Authorities were still searching for two suspected gunmen and a rancher accused of ordering the slaying, police investigator Ana Indira Vaz said. Arrest warrants for Cunha and the three other suspects were issued Monday.

Cunha allegedly hired the accused gunmen, police said, and was the intermediary between the killers and rancher Vitamiro Goncalves Moura, who authorities say ordered the killing.

Cunha was accompanied by an attorney when he turned himself in, police said, adding that Cunha admitted knowing Moura but denied being involved in Stang's killing.

Also Saturday, police released a photograph of a suspected gunmen, Rayfran das Neves Sales, who was identified by witnesses, police said.

About 50 state and federal officers and jungle troops in helicopters and pickup trucks were hunting for Neves and the other suspects in the Amazon region where Stang was killed.

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