SAN SALVADOR (Sputnik) – The Honduran Public Ministry denounced a maneuver to delay the trial of David Castillo, identified as the mastermind behind the murder of Lenca leader Berta Cáceres on March 3, 2016.
“The nullity raised by the defense of the president of DESA (company Desarrollos Energéticos SA) does not meet admissibility requirements and seeks to disguise the fact that he paid for the murder of Berta Cáceres,” the Prosecutor’s Office posted on his Twitter account.
Nulidad que plantea defensa del presidente de DESA no cumple requisitos de admisibilidad y busca disfrazar el hecho que éste pagó por el asesinato de Berta Cáceres https://t.co/ErekaUmJRL pic.twitter.com/FXH83qccG4
— Ministerio Público (@MP_Honduras) August 21, 2020
The Judicial Power of Honduras held the preliminary hearing against Castillo behind closed doors, and decreed that the resolution on whether the case is elevated to oral and public trial will be announced next week.
Prosecutors demand that Castillo be brought to trial, as there is clear evidence that he organized and planned the murder of Cáceres, by order of the Atala Zablah family, to end popular resistance against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project.
Cáceres, winner of the 2015 Goldman Prize for her environmental work, was shot to death, despite the fact that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had asked the Honduran State for precautionary measures to protect her life.
Delayed trial despite the evidence
The hearing against Castillo, president of the DESA company, has now lasted more than a year, despite the evidence against him accumulated by the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Life (FEDCV).
In the investigations of the so-called “Operation Jaguar”, the FEDCV and the Technical Criminal Investigation Agency collected evidence and indications of the payment made by Castillo to the hit men who shot the renowned environmental activist in her home.
The First Chamber of the Honduran Sentencing Court ruled in 2018, in the first trial for the murder of Cáceres, determining that the crime was committed “with the knowledge and consent of the DESA executives.”
The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh) has since denounced the little political will reiterated in negligent and inefficient processes, which led to the impunity of Daniel Atala Midence, José Eduardo Atala, Pedro Atala and Jacobo Atala.
The court found seven of the eight defendants guilty of the activist’s murder on November 29, 2018: Sergio Rodríguez, Mariano Díaz, Douglas Bustillo, Henry Hernández, Elvin Rápalo, Óscar Torres and Edilson Duarte, although the sentence was only read on December 2, 2019.
Featured image: © AP Photo / Eduardo Verdugo