The Honduran Justice has declared Honduran Roberto David Castillo guilty on Monday as co-perpetrator of the murder of environmentalist Berta Cáceres, which occurred on March 2, 2016, a crime for which seven people were already convicted in 2019, as confirmed by a source judicial. The convicted person is the former president of the construction company responsible for the hydroelectric plant against which the Honduran activist opposed.
“It’s easy to get killed in the fight for the environment”
The ruling has been notified by the Sentencing Court “by unanimous vote” and the prison sentence to which Castillo will be sentenced will be known on August 3, as the spokesperson for the Judiciary, Lucía Villars, has announced to journalists. Castillo, an executive of the company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA), was convicted as “intellectual co-author” of the murder of the environmentalist of the Lenca ethnic group and can face a sentence of between 20 and 25 years, he added.
Berta Cáceres was murdered on March 2, 2016 in the city of La Esperanza, department of Intibucá, in western Honduras, despite having precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to protect her from the constant threats that received, for his fight against megaprojects such as the DESA hydroelectric plant.
According to the Sentencing Court, the convicted person had communication with Douglas Bustillo, one of the seven convicted in December 2019 as a co-perpetrator of the crime of Berta Cáceres, Villars added.
“Supposedly David Castillo would have worked in the organization and logistics to kill Berta Cáceres,” stressed the spokeswoman for the Honduran Supreme Court.
The environmentalist, co-founder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh) in 1993, confronted DESA for defending the Gualcarque River, where that firm intended to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam, considering that it caused damage to the environment, mainly to the communities of the Lenca ethnic group.
In December 2019, a Honduran court sentenced four of eight defendants to 34 years in prison for the murder of Cáceres and 16 for the attempted murder of the Mexican Gustavo Castro. Three others were sentenced to 30 years in prison, as co-perpetrators of the crime. DESA has always rejected all the accusations against it by Copinh and the family of Berta Cáceres.
The sentence is, according to Bertha Zúñiga, one of the daughters of the environmentalist, “a victory for the peoples of the world who have accompanied this process, for the solidarity community and for human rights.” The loved ones of the environmental defender have also demanded the cancellation of the concession for the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam, which the defender opposed.
The conviction, he pointed out, means that “the power structures failed in this case to corrupt the justice system, and that the criminal structure of the Átala Zablah family, of which the convicted (Roberto) David Castillo is the instrument, not it achieved its objectives, “said Zúñiga when reading a statement from the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), in a press conference after the announcement of the ruling.
The Berta Cáceres case, she defends, “does not end” with the resolution of the Honduran Court, as the family seeks to bring to justice the intellectual authors of the murder of the leader of the Lenca ethnic group, she added.