Businessman sentenced to 22 years in prison for murder of environmentalist in Honduras

a court Honduran sentenced this Monday to 22 years and six months in prison to a senior executive of a hydroelectric plant, for the murder in 2016 of the environmentalist Berta Cáceres, a strong opponent of the project that this firm was developing in indigenous territory.

“Chamber I of the Sentencing Court with National Jurisdiction unanimously imposed a sentence of 22 years6 months in prison (..) for Roberto David Castillo Mejiafor his participation as co-author of the crime of murder to the detriment of environmentalist Berta Isabel Caceres Floressaid the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) in a statement.

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Castillo, a former Honduran military graduate from West Point, “He served as executive president of the company Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA)”. She had already received a “conviction” on July 5, 2021 as co-author of the crime, explained the CSJ. This Monday the court detailed the penalty.

Wiretaps, documentary evidence and testimonies led to the conclusion that Castle participated directly in the crime, argued the sentence. Castillo’s defense has 20 days to appeal the ruling.

In 2018 they had been sentenced to 30 years in prison also as “co-authors” Sergio Rodríguez and Douglas Bustillo, DESA officials; and ex-military Mariano Díaz. Meanwhile, the assassins Edilson Duarte, Oscar Torres, Henry Hernández and Elvin Rápalo received 50 years.

According to that sentence, the murder of Cáceres occurred because he opposed the construction of a DESA hydroelectric plant on the Gualcarque River, in the west of the country, on the grounds that it was damaging the environment. She was coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh).

For that crime,the sentence was 20 to 30 years, although it was the maximum we asked for [los familiares]30 years old, but the judges have already made their decision ”, Roberto Cáceres, brother of the murdered environmentalist, told AFP.

“Let’s go with others [acusados]This is not easy, but there we are continuing the fight, collecting the evidence to be able to bring them to trial because they are already people with economic and political power.”he added.

Berta Cáceres, known as a defender of the rivers, was the most emblematic environmentalist in Honduras. She had received the Goldman Prize a year before her murder.

The events occurred on March 3, 2016 in La Esperanza, western Honduras. She was killed by gunmen who shot her at midnight in her home.

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