After a trial that lasted 15 hours, Brazilian farmer/landowner Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, known as Bida, was sentenced to 30 years behind bars for ordering the murder of an American nun who worked in Brazil with poor landless rural workers in the state of Pará where there are longstanding land conflicts.
She was Dorothy Stang, 73, shot down in February 2005 by hired gunmen. She helped the poor face up to powerful, violent landowners who exploited them. And have historically made a joke of the law by hiring smart lawyers (they can afford them) who use loopholes in the law and legal maneuvers to keep their landowner clients out of jail.
In the case of Bida this has worked for five years. Suffice it to say that this trial was his third.
As the trial began, Bida’s lawyer made a brazen attempt to create a case for a mistrial or postponement by abandoning the courtroom. As one lawyer left a new defense lawyer walked in and announced that he was not familiar with the case. The judge immediately ordered two public defenders to take over so the trial could go ahead.
Five people have now been tried and sentenced for the murder of Dorothy Stang: Rayfran Sales, aka Fogoio, who fired the seven shots that killed her (sentenced to 27 years); Amair Feijoli da Cunha, a middleman who hired Fogoio (sentenced to 27 years); Clodoaldo Batista, who was with Fogoio when he shot Dorothy (sentenced to 17 years because he turned state witness); and the two farmers/landowners who ordered the murder: Bida and Regivaldo Pereira Galvão, aka Taradão (the big pervert).
It turns out that in over 33 years in the state of Pará, Bida is only the fourth landowner who ordered the murder of a rural landless worker to go on trial – needless to say he is one of the few ever found guilty. Taradão is awaiting trial.