The Honduran court found David Castillo guilty of being a collaborator in the 2016 assassination of indigenous activist Berta Caceres.
A Honduran construction company executive has been found guilty of being a collaborator in the 2016 assassination of indigenous environmental activist Berta Caceres, a court said Monday, in what Caceres supporters have accepted as it is a “victory.”
David Castillo is the former head of Desarrollos Energeticos (DESA), which managed the $ 50 million Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project.
Caceres, a longtime environmental activist and indigenous leader, was fatally killed in 2016 at his home in the city of La Esperanza after leading opposition to the project, which allegedly built a dam on the Gualcarque River on the ancestral lands of his Lenca people.
Lenca activists had said the project would cause major disruptions in their water and food supply and that builders had not consulted with indigenous groups in the area.
Another seven men they have already been convicted and convicted for having played a role in his killing, which attracted international condemnation and called broadly to justice.
Castillo was originally accused of being the chieftain behind the murder, but was found guilty of being a conspirator on Monday. His conviction is scheduled for August 3.
Caceres had been taking environmental causes since the early 1990s, starting with illegal logging, and won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Award for its efforts to organize resistance to the dam.
Rights groups say Carceres had endured years of threats and harassment by DESA dating back to at least 2013.
The Expert Observation Mission, a coalition of human rights and international law organizations following the trial, said the evidence presented showed Castillo had coordinated “a long campaign of surveillance, harassment and threats” against Caceres. .
Since the trial began three months ago, thousands of supporters they met outside the court demanding Castillo’s conviction.
On Monday, a video on social media showed Caceres supporters applauding and beating each other after the verdict was announced.
#Honduras That’s how the conviction against businessman David Castillo Mejía, president of #VILLAGE for the murder of Berta Cáceres. His daughter @ BerthaZuniga1 celebrates the decision outside the National Penal Court in #Tegucigalpa #LasQueLuchan
– Ruda (@ruda_gt) July 5, 2021
The indigenous rights group founded by Caceres, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), called the decision a “victory” for the people of Honduras.
“It means that criminal power structures have not corrupted the justice system,” COPINH said. Twitter.
Amnesty International, a UK rights group, has also upheld the guilty verdict, but says justice for Caceres “will never really be complete until all those involved in the crime, including those involved in the crime” they have planned, they should be brought to justice ”.
“Until all those responsible are held accountable, other human rights defenders in Honduras will continue to lose their lives, to raise their voices and defend the most vulnerable. The Honduran authorities must end impunity,” he said. said Erika Guevara-Rosas, American director of the group in a statement.
Last year, 20 human rights defenders were killed in Honduras, a report by Frontline Defenders found – making the South American country the third deadliest in the world for activists.
Fourteen land and environment defenders were killed in 2019, in addition to four people the previous year, according to the defense group Global Witness.