The Honduran court found David Castillo guilty of the 2016 murder of a collaborator of the indigenous activist Berta Caceres.
The court ruled on Monday that an executive of the Honduran construction company was found guilty for participating in the 2016 crime of killing the indigenous environmental activist Berta Caceres, which his supporters regarded as “victory”.
David Castillo is the former head of Desarrollos Energeticos (DESA), which manages the US$50 million Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project.
Cáceres, a long-time environmental activist and indigenous leader, was shot dead in 2016 at her home in the town of La Esperanza after leading an opposition to the project.
Lenca activists have stated that the project will severely disrupt their water and food supplies, and the builders did not consult with indigenous groups in the area.
Seven other men She has been convicted and sentenced for participating in the killing of her, which has aroused international condemnation and widespread appeals for justice.
Castillo was initially accused of Mastermind The man behind the murder, but was convicted of accomplice on Monday. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 3.
Cáceres began his environmental career in the early 1990s, starting with illegal logging, and won the prestigious Goldman Sachs Environmental Award for his organization’s efforts to boycott the dam.
Rights groups Say Dating back to at least 2013, Cáceres has been threatened and harassed by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs for many years.
The Expert Observer Group of the Coalition of International Human Rights and Legal Organizations, which has been following the trial, stated that the evidence provided shows that Castillo coordinated “long-term surveillance, harassment and threat activities” against Caceres.
Since the trial started three months ago, Thousands of supporters Has been gathering outside the courtroom, demanding that Castillo be convicted.
On Monday, a video on social media showed supporters of Cáceres cheering and applauding after the verdict was announced.
#Honduras This is the conviction of businessman David Castillo Mejía, the president #village Murder of Berta Cáceres.His daughter @BerthaZuniga1 Celebrating the verdict outside the National Sentencing Court #Tegucigalpa #LasQueLuchan
-Ruda (@ruda_gt) July 5, 2021
The Honduran People and Indigenous Organization Council (COPINH), an indigenous rights organization founded by Cáceres, called the decision a “victory” for the Honduran people.
“This means that the criminal power structure has not corrupted the judicial system,” COPINH said Twitter.
The United Kingdom-based human rights organization Amnesty International also welcomed the guilty verdict, but stated that Cáceres’ justice “will never be truly complete until all those involved in the crime, including those who plan the crime, are brought to justice. “.
“Until all those responsible are held accountable, other human rights defenders in Honduras will continue to lose their lives because they have raised their voices and defended the most vulnerable groups. The Honduran authorities must end impunity,” the organization Americas District director Erika Guevara-Rosas (Erika Guevara-Rosas) said in a statement.
Last year, 20 human rights defenders were killed in Honduras. report Frontline Defenders discovered-making the South American country the third deadliest country in the world for activists.
According to advocacy groups, 14 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2019, up from 4 in the previous year Global Witness.