July 28, 2021

In Honduras, a new conviction for the murder of environmentalist Berta Caceres

“Berta is not dead! The struggle continues ! “ The decision of the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras on Monday (July 5) to find guilty of the assassination of the environmental activist Berta Caceres, the head of the hydroelectric company, of which she denounced a dam project, provoked cries of joy in court.

“Roberto David Castillo was involved in this case as a co-perpetrator of the crime of assassination to the detriment of Berta Isabel Caceres”, announced the judge during a public hearing. He is the eighth person convicted of this assassination, but the first senior official of the Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA).

Arrested on March 2, 2018 at San Pedro Sula airport (north-west) while trying to flee the country, Roberto David Castillo, a former military graduate of the American Academy of West Point who became manager of the DESA company, was accused of having “Facilitated logistics and other resources for one of the material authors”. His sentence will be pronounced on August 3.

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Evidence of telephone communications

On December 2, 2019, four hired killers who shot dead the environmental activist at her home in La Esperanza, 200 km from Tegucigalpa, on the night of March 2, 2016, as well as an army major, a DESA official , and the former head of company security, had been sentenced to terms ranging from 30 to 50 years in prison. They had also been convicted of the attempted assassination of a friend of Berta Caceres, the Mexican sociologist Gustavo Castro, who was at his home the night of the attack. Hit by several shots, Mr. Castro was left for dead but survived.

During the trial, the court revealed the contents of telephone communications between the official and the seven other convicts, showing that Mr. Castillo had meticulously planned the assassination and the remuneration of the contract killers.

Read also 30 to 50 years in prison for the assassins of environmentalist Berta Caceres in Honduras

A renowned indigenous and feminist, Berta Caceres, who was about to turn 43, had received numerous death threats for opposing DESA’s construction of a hydroelectric power station, the Agua Zarca project. She denounced the ecological risks of the dam and the fact that the Lenca community, which considers the Gualcarque river to be a sacred place, had not been consulted. The plant site had been paralyzed by the demonstrations organized by the NGO Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), which she headed. In 2015, she received the Goldman Prize for the environment.

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