Story By: Jonathan Macias, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Seven men have been sentenced to between 30 and 50 years for the murder of award-winning environmental activist Berta Caceres in Honduras.
According to local media, The Supreme Court of Justice in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa in central Honduras sentenced seven men to between 30 and 50 years in prison for the murder of activist Berta Caceres, 44, a winner of the Goldman prize for environmental defenders.
Caceres was found murdered in her flat in the municipality of La Esperanza in the department of Intibuca in western Honduras in March 2016 after several men reportedly broke into her flat and shot her dead.
Reports state Henry Javier Hernandez, Elvin Rapalo, Edilson Duarte and Oscar Torres received sentences of 50 years and four months each for murdering the activist while Douglas Bustillo, a manager in the company Desarrolos Energeticos S.A. (DESA), was handed 30 years and six months, Sergio Ramon Rodriguez Orellana was given 30 years and 6 months for his participation and the company’s Head of Security who was a US-trained special forces major named Mariano Diaz Chavez were sentenced to 30 years in prison for being connected to the crime.
The criminals were reportedly arrested during an investigation launched by the Crime Investigation Agency of Honduras (ATIC) and coordinated by the Attorney’s Office for the Prosecution of Civil Servants (FEEFS-SJ).
Reports claim Roberto David Castillo Mejia, who was the executive president of DESA when Caceres was murdered, was also arrested last March 2018 accused of being one of the masterminds behind the murder.
Juan Carlos Cruz and the former police agent Miguel Argangel Rosales Izcano were also arrested accused of presenting false evidence during the investigation.
It is unclear if they have been charged.
Berta Caceres’ daughter Berta Zuniga Caceres and the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH) complained that the masterminds behind the murder have not been prosecuted yet.
Zuniga Caceres said on social media: “There are sentences, but no justice. The masterminds of the murder continue to enjoy impunity, even though it has been proven that DESA was responsible for killing Berta Caceres.”
Before her murder, Caceres had filed up to 33 complaints against the building of a dam by DESA in the Gualcarque river in the Intibuca department in western Honduras which is considered sacred by the Mesoamerican indigenous community Lenca.
The Goldman Environmental Prize is awarded annually to grassroots environmental activists from each of the world’s six geographic regions. It is also called the Green Nobel.
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