photo via flickr
Vitalmiro Bastos Moura, a Brazilian rancher, has been convicted of contracting for the murder of US nun Dorothy Stang in 2005 and was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Moura, also known as Bida, ordered the killing of Sister Dorothy after she blocked ranchers from taking over land in the Amazon granted to them by the government. Sister Dorothy was a long-time activist working to stop deforestation and exploitation of native peoples. She was 73 at her death.Violence against activists in the Amazon is an all-too-frequent occurrence. Stang, holding her Bible, was shot six times in February 2005 and was left to die in Para, a Brazilian state on the front lines of the fight to save the Amazon.
Hopefully Bida's conviction will be a signal that the government is serious about protecting activists and stopping deforestation. In total, deforestation is responsible for about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the transport sector.
The verdict came late at night in the Amazon city of Belem, after the jury had deliberated for 15 hours.
Ms Stang, who was 73 when she was killed, worked in the Amazon for 30 years to preserve the rainforest and protect the rights of rural workers against large-scale farmers wanting to take their land.
She was shot dead as she walked along a muddy rainforest track in the town of Anapu in Para, a northern frontier state where loggers and ranchers have deforested huge tracts of rainforest.
The two confessed hitmen who killed her said Moura and another rancher still to be tried had paid them to do it.
"This conviction sends a strong message... that the impunity is ending," nun Rebeca Spires, who knew Ms Stang for 35 years, is quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.
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