PBI-Honduras accompanies COPINH at trial of soldier accused of the attempted murder of Lenca defender Allan Garcia
On October 27, PBI-Honduras tweeted:
“At PBI we hope that the start of the trial against Kevin Saravia for the attempted murder of Allan García will be resumed soon, and that the events that occurred will be clarified. We highlight the work of the @COPINHHONDURAS in defense of the rights of the Lenca people.”
On Facebook, they further explain:
“Last week we accompanied COPINH at the oral and public trial against former sub-officer Kevin Saravia for the attempted murder of Allan Garcia, son of the defender Lenca Tomás Garcia killed the same day. The trial eventually had to be rescheduled due to staffing shortages.
From PBI we hope that the start of the hearings will resume soon, and that the facts that happened will be clarified and judged impartially and transparently.
We highlight the work of COPINH in defending the rights of the Lenca people and the Rio Blanco community.”
And Criterio.hn reports:
“The absence of the Prosecutor’s Office in the Sentencing Court of Siguatepeque was the official cause for the rescheduling of the trial against Kevin Yasser Saravia Ortiz’s non-commissioned officer, accused of attempted homicide against Lenca leader Allan García.
The trial that should have begun on Monday, October 19, 2022, was postponed to January 13, 2023, extending the hearings until February, and will take place between the cities of La Esperanza in Intibucá, and Siguatepeque in the department of Comayagua.
The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) through a tweet said that the breach of justice in the case of Allan García continues. In addition, they stated that both the organization and the Lenca people “demand a prompt resolution to the trial against non-commissioned officer Kevin Saravia for the attempted murder of Allan García.”
In the document issued by the Sentencing Court of Siguatepeque, Comayagua, in which the rescheduling was reported, it was also notified that electronic means are enabled for the conduct of the trial.
The case involves the actions of the non-commissioned officer of the Engineers Battalion during a demonstration against the imposition of the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project on the Gualcarque River. For these actions Saravia was convicted of the crime of simple homicide against Tomás García in the 2015 trial.
However, he was acquitted of the attempted murder of Allan García. The Court argued that in Allan’s case it was only “misdemeanors,” and that “it was not his intention to kill him,” giving him a sentence of 30 to 90 days in prison.
Given this ruling, the private prosecution filed an appeal for cassation that resulted in the retrial with regard to the complaint corresponding to the events against Allan García, previously indicated to Criterio.hn one of the lawyers of the Law Firm Studies for Dignity, which is handling the case.
The prosecution, in its appeal for cassation, said that Saravia was not guilty of the crime of injury but of the crime of attempted homicide because the intention of the shot was not to injure or wound him, but to kill him, said the lawyer.
In December 2015, at the end of the trial, Lenca leader Berta Cáceres said: “We want to tell you that our position as COPINH, as the Lenca people of Río Blanco, will be to continue defending life and we will reach the ultimate consequences so that justice is applied.”
Cáceres was murdered on the night of March 2, 2016 for her leadership in COPINH and for pointing out the corruption network that operated for the Gualcarque River concession for the construction of a hydroelectric project by the company Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA).
Based on their complaints, ignored at the time by the Public Ministry, the UFECIC-MACCIH built the case Fraud on the Gualcarque, for which the sentence against six former officials is currently pending.
“For years, COPINH and the indigenous community of Río Blanco have suffered death threats and physical attacks at the hands of the Honduran Armed Forces,” the organization published in one of its recent posts related to the case of Allan García.
They added that “acts of violence against defenders of their ancestral territories, such as the case of our comrade Tomás García y Allan, not only violate their individual guarantees, but also undermine the fundamental role they play in the society of the Honduran Armed Forces.””
The Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project has accompanied COPINH since May 2016.