Honduras: MEPs demand justice for murdered ecologist

MEPs on Tuesday demanded that the Honduran authorities do justice to Honduran ecologist Berti Caceres, who was killed five years ago, a day after the end of the trial against the businessman accused of being a sponsor.

“We urge the state of Honduran to ensure (…) access to justice and adequate, effective and prompt compensation for the victims, both of the Berte Caceres family and of the Honduran society that has been hit by this horrific crime,” the deputies wrote in a letter from Brussels.

Berta Caceres was shot on the night of March 2-3, 2016 at her home in La Esperanza, about 200 km from Tegucigalpa.

The activist opposed the construction of a hydroelectric power plant on the Gualcarque River, on the land of the Lenca community to which she belonged, the Desarrollos Energeticos SA (DESA) group.

The then president of the group, David Castillo, a graduate of the American military school West Point, the prosecutor’s office, the Caceres family and the NGO Civic Council of Organizations of Popular and Indigenous People declared Honduras (Copinh), whose coordinator was Berta Caceres.

He was arrested in March 2018, and his trial began on April 6. The hearings ended on Monday.

In their letter to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and other officials in the country, MEPs believe the accused “used his experience in military intelligence” to obstruct Berta Caceres’ action, according to information released during the trial.

These data, they said, also show how the defendants, along with DESE employees and executives, prepared “assassination logistics” during the months leading up to the crime, especially with former DESA security chief Douglas Bustill.

“We demand that the criminal trial in the David Castillo case be conducted in full respect of the legal principles of impartiality and open justice,” MPs insist. “We note with concern that those responsible for the assassination have not been charged and that the hydropower project, surrounded by serious allegations of corruption, has not been canceled.”

In December 2019, seven men were sentenced in the first instance to prison terms ranging from 30 to 50 years for the assassination of Bertha Caceres.

Military Major Mariano Diaz, a DESA official, Sergio Rordiguez and Douglas Bustillo, accused of organizing the assassination, were sentenced to 30 years. Four contract killers were sentenced to 34 years in prison for the Caceres case and an additional 16 years for the attempted assassination of Mexican Gustavo Castro who was in his company.

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