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Three men on trial for the murder of Brazilian Indian leader Marcos Veron have been acquitted of homicide, but convicted of kidnapping, torture and criminal conspiracy in relation to his death.
They were also acquitted of charges of attempted homicide in relation to six other Indians who were with Veron when he was killed.
The men were sentenced to just over 12 years’ imprisonment, but as they have served more than four years in prison, they have the right to go free pending an appeal.
Named in court as Carlos Roberto dos Santos, Estevão Romero and Jorge Cristaldo Insabralde, the three men were allegedly working for the owner of the Brasilia do Sul ranch, Jacinto Honorio da Silva Filho, whose ranch occupies the traditional territory of Veron’s Guarani community.
Mr da Silva has never been charged in relation to the crime.
Marcos Veron, an internationally respected Guarani Kaiowá leader, was beaten to death in 2003 after he led his community’s reoccupation of their ancestral land.
Veron, 72 at the time of his death, said about his land, ‘This here is my life, my soul. If you take me away from this land, you take my life.’
Survival’s Research Director Fiona Watson said today, ‘Whilst we’re disappointed that these men have been acquitted of murder, and freed pending an appeal, their convictions on the lesser charges nevertheless sends a powerful message that Indigenous leaders cannot be killed with impunity.’
Survival supported a group of Guarani to attend the trial in São Paulo.