Rev. Moon Can Stay on Brazil Ranch

The Associated Press/February 10, 1999

Sao Paulo, Brazil -- A Brazilian judge ruled the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his followers were victims of religious bias and revoked an earlier order that they evacuate a ranch, lawyers said Wednesday.

The New Hope Ranch -- a 74,000-acre complex with a school, research center, meeting house and dining hall -- serves as the center for Moon's Latin American operations.

More than 100 people living at the facility in Jardim, about 620 miles northwest of Sao Paulo, were ordered evacuated in January after a prosecutor charged it was dumping untreated sewage into two rivers in Mato Grosso do Sul State.

The evacuation was ordered by a judge who was sitting in for vacationing Judge Geraldo de Almeida Santiago.

Santiago overturned the order, calling it ``hasty'' and motivated by the ``religious prejudice of the citizens of Jardim.''

A copy of the ruling, dated Feb. 4, was given to The Associated Press by Moon's attorney, Waldir Cipriani. The judge was not available for immediate comment, but his office confirmed the ruling.

Santiago also ruled that the prosecutor did not offer sufficient technical data to back up his charges that Moon's ranch was polluting the rivers.

Cipriani said a sewage treatment plant under construction at the ranch should be completed within a week.

The ranch, founded three years ago, belongs to Moon's Association of Families for Unification and World Peace, formerly known as the Unification Church.

Moon traveled to Jardim on a fishing trip in 1994 and has since spent millions developing sites in sparsely populated Mato Grosso do Sul, which borders Bolivia and Paraguay.

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