AMERICA/BRAZIL - Assassination of the missionary Vicente Cañas: executioner condemned

Tuesday, 5 December 2017 martyrs   missionary institutes   indigenous   inculturation   missionary animation  

Cuiabá (Agenzia Fides) - The only accused survivor, Ronaldo Antônio Osmar, former civil police delegate, accused of participating in the murder of the Spanish Jesuit missionary Vicente Cañas, in April 1987, was found guilty by the Regional Court of Cuiabá and sentenced to 14 years and 3 months imprisonment (see Fides, 14/11/2017). The first trial on his case was only celebrated in 2006, 19 years after the crime, and the accused were acquitted for lack of evidence. This new trial lasted two days, November 29 and 30, which led to the condemnation of Osmar.
According to the information sent to Agenzia Fides, the testimony of two Indian Rikbacktsa were taken into consideration during this new trial, who listened to one of the missionary’s executioners confess the crime and embroil the accused and those who had hired him to organize it. We are talking about a landowner of Londrina who saw his interests threatened by the defense of the indigenous lands led by the Jesuit Vicente Cañas. Fausto Campoli, Vicente Cañas’ confrere, testified the Jesuit’s close relationship with the Indians Enawene Nawe and how they considered him a member of their people, thus disproving the thesis that they may have killed him.
Vicente Cañas' relatives, who came specially from Spain, assisted the trial, along with numerous Jesuit representatives and of the ecclesial realities engaged in the pastoral work with the indigenous peoples. The niece and nephew Rosa and José Angel commented the sentence: "We are very happy, this opens an impressive precedent in this country. After so many years of waiting it is a great satisfaction that justice was done, what our uncle wanted was to open a road for the protection of the indigenous peoples, this sentence will serve to defend many others who cannot defend themselves".
For Father Antonio Tabosa SJ, superior of the Plataforma Apostólica Centro Oeste (PACO), the pronouncement means "first of all justice for a Jesuit missionary who dedicated his life to the indigenous here in the region of Mato Grosso, then justice for his family members who were with us in this trial and felt the pain and impunity of the tragic death, and above all justice for the indigenous peoples who find it difficult to defend their rights".
Vicente Cañas was born in Albacete, Spain on October 22, 1939. On the feast of Saint Francis Xavier in 1965 he received the missionary cross and on January 19, 1966, he arrived in Brazil. In 1968 his new destination, Mato Grosso, where he committed himself wholeheartedly in the inculturation of indigenous peoples. He was killed at 48 years of age in a violent manner. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 5/12/2017)