MADRID – A lawyer whose firm is defending a company on trial for the murder in Honduras of a prominent indigenous leader who strove to halt the construction of a dam on a river that a local population regarded as sacred said Thursday he did so because he feared those accused could face what he described as a political trial with a total lack of evidence.
Robert Amsterdam, from the law firm Amsterdam and Partners LLP headquartered in London and Washington DC, has taken on the defense of a construction company called DESA in a case over the murder of Berta Caceres.
“The investigation by the Honduran authorities was deeply flawed, particularly as it related to my client, DESA, the corporation, and two of the individuals who were still working with DESA, Sergio Rodriguez and David Castillo, in respect to whom there did not appear to be any evidence,” Amsterdam said in an exclusive interview with EFE.
Caceres was shot dead in March 2016 at her home in La Esperanza, western Honduras, and her family denounced a total lack of state help despite having been informed of a long string of threats.
Amsterdam criticized the current role of the Civic Committee of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), of which Caceres was a co-founder and leader, and challenged foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to investigate what he calls its violent methods in the area.
“Caceres had been in close contact with the organization. Miss Caceres and Castillo had been in constant communication. DESA had moved the facility because of all the objections from COPINH they had moved the facility to the other side of the river,” he said.
He added that the hydroelectric plant had been moved “to ensure there was no dam and to ensure there was minimum environmental impact.”
He also said that there were organizations and indigenous people who supported the project.
He concluded that his client would come to realize that the only thing that would stop their project would have been the murder of Caceres, something that in fact happened.
“There was absolutely no business motive,” he said.