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Sun Jul 29, 2018, 01:31 AM

NLG letter to Honduran officials demands justice and accountability for murder of Berta Cceres

NLG letter to Honduran officials demands justice and accountability for murder of Berta Cáceres

National Lawyers Guild President Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan sent a letter in Spanish on behalf of the Guild to judicial officials in Honduras on 26 July, urging justice and full accountability for the murder of Berta Cáceres, the indigenous, environmental and human rights leader slain in her home on March 2, 2016.

The first hearing in the murder trial of nine defendants in the case will open on Friday, July 27. The Guatemala Human Rights Commission notes that “After tremendous international pressure, the skilled work of the Honduran legal team, and with the courageous insistence of Berta’s family and organization, COPINH, eight suspects have been arrested and the real story of Berta’s murder is becoming clear. The gunmen who stormed her home were apparently coordinated by an active duty Honduran intelligence officer together with a former military officer working in a private security company, who had been hired by executives of the DESA Corporation. DESA sought to build the Agua Zarca dam in Lenca territory, a dam the communities opposed. Berta, as an effective and internationally recognized human rights defender, was a problem in the way of DESA’s plans….There are well-founded concerns that the Honduran state prosecutor is undermining the possibility of justice by withholding evidence that could incriminate intellectual authors and provide accused murders with grounds to appeal a guilty verdict…to date, the public prosecutor’s office has repeatedly refused to comply with court orders to hand over the vast majority of the evidence it has gathered in the investigation.”

The men being brought to trial are:

  • Douglas Geovanny Bustillo is a retired army officer and former chief of security for the DESA corporation building the Agua Zarca dam. He is accused of planning the murder with DESA president David Castillo while Bustillo worked for an unrelated private security company.

  • Major Mariano Diaz Chavez, a long-time associate of Douglas Bustillo, was an active duty military officer at the time of his arrest and the chief of special forces intelligence at the time the murder plan was set into motion.

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