Concluding remarks in the trial of the Guapinol River defenders to be delivered on February 4

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: On Tuesday February 1, PBI-Honduras was present at the solidarity gathering in Tegucigalpa marking 29 months of arbitrary detention for the Guapinol River defenders. On Friday February 4, the concluding remarks by the prosecution and defence will be delivered at their trial in Tocoa, Colon.

The trial of the eight Guapinol River defenders is nearing conclusion.

One of the defenders has been imprisoned since December 8, 2018, while seven have been incarcerated since September 1, 2019.

In February 2021, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions concluded that their imprisonment is arbitrary and urged the Honduran State to release them.

After a long delay, their 16-days of trial so far began on December 1, 2021. Day-by-day updates on the trial can be read here.

Freedom for Guapinol notes: “In a few days, the Trujillo court will hear the final conclusions in the trial of the defenders in which, it has been clearly demonstrated how the State has built a false case to punish those who dare to defend water and life.”

It further notes: “On the basis of the evidence, the Court has no choice but to acquit the defenders and order their immediate release, since it has been proven with the same proof from the State that the defenders are innocent and that it is the company that has acted outside the margins of the law.”

Global Exchange adds: “This week on Friday, February 4th at 9 am, the concluding remarks will be delivered in the courthouse in Tocoa, Colon (about a 6 to 8 hour drive from Tegucigalpa). The concluding remarks lay out a summary of the case from the perspectives of the prosecutors, the ‘private accusers’ representing mining company Inversiones Los Pinares, and each of the defense attorneys. The water defenders are present as well.”

It further highlights: “The presence of Embassies officials and international human rights observers is important to tell the judges and the corrupt judicial system that people are watching.”

This week Criterio also reported: “The Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Goods warned that, in these 29 months of illegal detention, the mining company Los Pinares, of the Emco Group, has continued its projects despite the wide rejection against it that was manifested in the open council of November 2019.”

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) has explained: “In August 2018, when development of the mine began to contaminate the drinking water for 14 nearby communities, residents of Guapinol erected a ‘Camp in Defense of Water and Life’.”

Juana Zúñiga, who participated in a Peace Brigades International-organized webinar this past November, says: “They ruined our river … We couldn’t use water for anything, that’s why we organized, that’s our struggle.”

The camp was in place for 90 days. The UUSC notes: “In October 2018, 1,500 Honduran military and police officers violently attacked and evicted the camp.”

From that time to now, we watch from Canada with concern.

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