PBI-Honduras observes the sentencing of the seven men found guilty of killing Berta Cáceres
On December 2, the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project posted, “Today we observed the reading of the sentence of the seven defendants in the case of Berta Cáceres. The court sentenced between 30 and 50 years for the murder of the indigenous leader and for the attempted murder of Mexican defender Gustavo Castro in 2016. According to COPINH Intibucá, ‘this road is not over here, there is a great debt to true justice’, and demands a trial against the intellectual authors behind the crime.”
The Guardian reports, “The four paid hitmen – Elvin Rapalo, Edilson Duarte Meza, Óscar Torres, and Henry Javier Hernández – were each given 34 years for the murder. They were also sentenced to 16 years and four months for the attempted murder of Gustavo Castro, a Mexican environmentalist who was shot in the same attack but survived by playing dead.”
That article adds, “Sergio Ramón Rodríguez, the communities and environment manager for Desa, and Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, a former Desa security chief and ex-US trained army lieutenant, were given 30 years and six months for their participation in the murder. Mariano Díaz Chávez, a US-trained special forces major who served with Bustillo, was found guilty by omission and given 30 years.”
Bertita Zúñiga, Cáceres’ second-eldest daughter, says, “From the outset, the path to justice has been painful, as our rights as victims have not been respected. These sentences are a start in breaking the impunity, but we’re going to make every effort to ensure that all those responsible – the company executives and state officials identified in the trial – are prosecuted.”
In terms of the intellectual authors of the crime, she has commented, “There is only one case open – which has also been extremely delayed – and that is of David Castillo, the president of the company. However, for us, David Castillo is a minor and in fact, the weakest representative of the powerful people that took the decision and economically lent support to this crime.”
Zúñiga adds, “That is why one of our petitions and demands is the arrest of the maximum responsible people, and there is already evidence which links some and with others, some type of participation with names and the role they played within the criminal structure has already been publicly determined.”
PBI-Honduras began accompanying COPINH in May 2016.