David Castillo Mejía, a second lieutenant in the military intelligence service of the Honduran army from 2006-11, who went on to the position of executive president of the Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) company, was sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison for his role in the murder of activist Berta Isabel Cáceres in 2016.
The court also ordered “additional penalties of absolute disqualification and suspension of citizenship” of Castillo. In its sentence, the court declared that the evidence presented during the trial was “enough to break the presumption of innocence” by which they concluded that Castillo “participated directly as co-author” in a “plan to eliminate any obstacle that might interfere in the operations” of the company Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA).
Sala I del #TribunalDeSentenciaNacional condena a una pena de más de 22 años de reclusión a Roberto Castillo Mejía por el Asesinato de la Ambientalista Berta Isabel Cáceres. pic.twitter.com/XyQi5mzswe
— Poder Judicial HN (@PJdeHonduras) June 20, 2022
Berta Cáceres was murdered on March 2, 2016, while she slept in her house in La Esperanza, in the department of Intibucá, in western Honduras.
The activist co-founded the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), defying DESA for years over the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project which threatened the Gualcarque River, essential for the survival of the Lenca people.
Who is Roberto Castillo Mejía?
Castillo, a second lieutenant in the Honduran Army (2006-2011), was also the executive president of DESA and was found to be the intellectual co-author of Cáceres’ assassination. He was detained in March, 2018 in the San Pedro Sula airport when he was about to get on a flight to Houston.
In 2017, the International Expert Advisory Panel (GAIPE) published a report revealing that executives and employees of the hydroelectric company DESA, alongside state officials and hired guns, conspired to kill the renowned environmentalist.
The report uncovered a plan to kill Cáceres, hatched in November 2015, which sought to silence her protests against the construction of a hydro-power plant due to its effects on the environment.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune