A Brazilian court found Rayfran das Neves Sales and Clodoaldo Carlos Batista guilty of the 2005 murder of 73-year-old Catholic sister Dorothy Stang, SND. The men received 27- and 17-year prison sentences, respectively. The ranchers accused of ordering the murder are expected to stand trial this spring. Stang, an Ohio native, had lived since the early 1970s in the Anapu region of Para, Brazil, where she fought large-scale ranching and logging interests to protect poor farmers and the rainforest. Nearly 800 other land-rights activists have been killed in Para in the last 30 years—but fewer than 10 of these crimes led to convictions.
Sister Maura Browne, SND, who attended the trial, told Sojourners that the conduct and outcome of the trial demonstrated “the determination of the government and people of Brazil that impunity does not prevail” and the government’s “commitment to sustainable development in the Amazon.” Hundreds of rural poor traveled to the city of Belem for the trial. Bearing posters of Stang’s likeness, they withstood the tropical heat and the pouring rain to camp outside the judicial building before and during the trial.