TEGUCIGALPA – A court in Honduras sentenced on Monday seven men to 30 to 50 years in jail for the murder of Honduran environmentalist Berta Caceres and the attempted murder of Mexican Gustavo Castro in 2016 in Intibuca.
Another person, Roberto David Castillo, who has been accused as the “intellectual author” of the murder, remains in custody.
The Court of Justice sentenced Edilson Duarte, Henry Javier Hernandez, Elvin Rapalo and Oscar Torres to 34 years in jail for the murder of Caceres and 16 years for the attempted murder of Castro, who was a guest of the activist on the day of the crime and was the only witness.
Douglas Bustillo, Sergio Ramon Rodriguez and Mariano Diaz Chavez were sentenced to 30 years in jail over their participation in the murder.
Caceres, who was also the general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), opposed a hydroelectric dam project in the west of the country run by Desarrollos Energeticos Sociedad Anonima (Desa).
Desa’s executives have rejected accusations against company personnel for the murder of Caceres, who was sleeping at her home when she was killed.
Mexican environmentalist Castro, who was also shot during the incident and survived by playing dead, was held in Honduras for several weeks after the crime.
On Nov. 30, 2018, the court convicted seven of the eight defendants for the murder and the attempted murder.
The hearing was then attended by relatives of Caceres headed by her mother, Austra Bertha Flores, family lawyers and members of Copinh.
“I can’t say I feel satisfied, but at least the justice was done,” said the environmentalist’s mother. She also stressed that “these criminals go to jail to rot in jail” but “I don’t have my daughter back. I don’t get to kiss her or look at her again.”
Caceres’ family has reiterated that Desa, a company linked to the electricity sector, government officials and the military, among others, are part of the “intellectual authors” of the crime.
Desa’s lawyer, Robert Amsterdam rejected in a statement in November last year that Sergio Ramon Rodriguez, one of those sentenced, had anything to do with the death of Caceres.
According to Amsterdam, “there is no doubt that this trial was the subject of an overwhelming international pressure campaign based on false claims and now they have obtained the desired result: a sham with political motivations to imprison an innocent man despite the lack of evidence.”
The family and supporters of Caceres continue to demand punishment and that the masterminds of the crime be captured, alleging that it is not only David Castillo who was involved.