Crime & Justice

Family of slain Honduran activist demands maximum jail term for collaborator

Tegucigalpa, Aug 3 (EFE).- The family of slain Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres demanded Tuesday that Roberto David Castillo be given the maximum sentence of 25 years in prison for his role in the murder.

Cáceres, co-founder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and winner of the Goldman prize for environmental defenders, was shot dead on March 2, 2016 at her home in La Esperanza. A guest in her house, the Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro, was also shot but played dead and survived.

In June, Castillo, a former American-trained Honduran army intelligence officer and president of hydroelectric company Desarrollos Energéticos S.A (DESA), was found guilty of being a co-collaborator in the assassination.

“We are demanding the maximum penalty that is established according to the facts that have been proven, and the aggravating factors,” said Cáceres’ daughter Bertha Zúñiga after the sentencing hearing, which was monitored virtually by the European Union and its member states accredited in the country.

The crime of murder is punishable in Honduras with a penalty of between 20-25 years in prison.

The maximum penalty was also requested by the public ministry and the lawyers for the activist’s family, while Castillo’s defense urged the minimum sentence of 20 years. The sentencing will take place in September, according to the court.

The daughter of the environmentalist, who opposed the DESA-backed construction of the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque river, considered sacred to the Lenca people, asked the Sentencing Court to issue its judgment within the established procedural timeframe of 30 business days.

“In addition, we are demanding the prosecution of the intellectual authors (…) who despite the investigations and all the judicial processes that have proven their participation, continue without being prosecuted,” Zúñiga said.

COPINH said on Twitter that “the murder of Berta Cáceres is a crime against humanity. David Castillo acted with aggravations that the penal code makes explicit.”

The organization also demanded “the capture and prosecution of the intellectual authors” of the murder.

In December 2019, a Honduran court sentenced four of eight defendants to 34 years in prison for the murder of Cáceres, and 16 years and four months for the attempted murder of Castro. Three others were sentenced to 30 years in prison for their roles. EFE


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