Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura was found guilty Monday for ordering the death of Sister Dorothy Stang, 73.
Sister Dorothy, an Ohio native and naturalized Brazilian citizen, was a defender of the rights’ of poor farmers in the Amazon.
The case has been seen as a test of Brazil’s willingness to oppose the lawlessness of the Amazon, where as many as 1,200 people have been killed in the last two decades over land conflicts.
Bastos de Moura is the first mastermind to be put behind bars, though several dozen of the gunmen are already serving time.
His case, though, has been rocky. He was sentenced to 30 years in May 2007, but a year later, that judgement was overturned in a re-trial. After another year, the re-trial was overturned and Monday’s decision has finally put the rancher behind bars.
Rayfran das Neves Sales, who confessed to shooting Sister Dorothy, is serving a 28-year sentence.
Prosecutors said das Neves Sales was offered as much as $25,000 to kill the nun after she fought to preserve a piece of jungle that ranchers wanted to clear for logging and cattle ranching.