By Dan Shapley
Sister Dorothy Stang was a champion of the poor peasants who made a living in the Amazonian rainforest of Brazil, and her work led to her brutal death, at point-blank range, at the behest of a powerful rancher who sought to clear-cut and plunder the forest. In the lawless jungle, such crimes are common and often go unreported, uninvestigated or unsolved. But the death of the U.S. missionary, an Ohio native, led to an international outcry, and yesterday justice was served. Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura was sentenced to 30 years for ordering her killing. Advocates for the landless peasants, many of whom harvest rubber and other sustainable products from the forest, hope the case will help stem the tide of killings and intimidation, and ultimately preserve more of the tropical forest that has been called the Earth's lungs, according to a story in the May 16 Los Angeles Times.