PBI-Honduras accompanied COPINH says ruling ordering start of trial for DESA executive “a step in the search for justice”

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: On October 10, 2019, PBI-Honduras went to observe the hearing of former DESA executive David Castillo for the murder of Berta Cáceres. That preliminary hearing was suspended after Castillo’s defence filed an appeal.

On August 26, Reuters reported: “A Honduran judge [today] ordered the start of the trial of a former executive who has been held in detention for more than two years on charges of ordering the murder of indigenous activist Berta Caceres.”

In response, COPINH has tweeted: “This is a step in the search for justice, truth, reparation and non-repetition of COPINH, the family of Berta Cáceres and the Lenca people.”

The Reuters article further explains: “Caceres, a veteran land rights defender who led a battle against a major dam on the ancestral lands of her Lenca tribe, was shot to death at her home in 2016 at age 43.”

“David Castillo, a former executive at Desarrollos Energeticos, or DESA, which pushed for construction of the Agua Zarca dam that Caceres protested against, is accused of organizing the plot and was arrested in March 2018.”

Yesterday, Nina Lakhani, the author of Who Killed Berta Cáceres? Dams, Death Squads, and an Indigenous Defender’s Battle for the Planet, tweeted: “Despite multiple delays/irregularities in the judicial process, David Castillo, a US trained ex-intelligence officer, will face trial for masterminding the 2016 murder of indigenous defender Berta Cáceres who was killed for opposing construction of a dam.”

Lakhani previously reported in The Guardian: “In November 2018, the court ruled the murder was ordered by executives of the Agua Zarca dam company, Desa, because of delays and financial losses linked to protests led by Cáceres.”

In March 2019, Vice reported: “All three foreign investors—including Dutch [entrepreneurial development] bank FMO, Finnish finance company FinnFund, and the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (CABEI)—have withdrawn from the [Agua Zarca] project, putting the construction project on indefinite hold.”

However, the article adds: “DESA owns the concession for 50 years, Zúniga says, meaning the company has the exclusive right to work the land until 2059. ‘They have not given up and apparently have no intention of abandoning the project altogether.’”

The Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project began accompanying the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) in May 2016, three months after the murder of Cáceres.

Video: On March 8, 2016, people gathered in front of the Embassy of Honduras in Ottawa, Canada to demand justice just days after the murder of Cáceres.

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