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Honduras: Authorities charge dam executive as an "intellectual author" of Berta Caceres murder

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2 March 2018

Dam executive arrested in death of Honduran activist

Author: Freddy Cuevas, Washington Post

Honduran authorities arrested an executive with a dam development company Friday in the 2016 killing of indigenous and environmental activist Berta Caceres, calling him an intellectual author of a crime that sparked an international outcry. Roberto David Castillo Mejia, who at the time of the slaying was executive president of the company Desarrollos Energeticos SA, or DESA, was detained at an airport in San Pedro Sula as he was about to fly to Houston, Texas, said Jorge Galindo, a spokesman for the prosecutors’ office. It was the ninth arrest in the killing of Caceres, a Goldman Environmental Prize winner who was shot to death two years ago after attackers barged into her home in La Esperanza...Two others have been arrested for allegedly impeding the investigation. The Public Ministry alleges Castillo was “the person in charge of providing logistics and other resources to one of the material authors already being prosecuted for the crime.”

In a statement, DESA defended Castillo and its employees as innocent, saying they were “totally unconnected” to the crime and calling the “unjust detention” the result of “international pressure and campaigns by diverse NGOs to discredit the company... Caceres’ relatives said they were certain of Castillo’s guilt. “There is no doubt that he was one of the material authors of Berta’s death,” said her ex-husband, Salvador Zuniga.

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2 March 2018

Ex-Honduran military intelligence officer arrested for masterminding Berta Cáceres' murder

Author: Nina Lakhani, Guardian (UK)

"Berta Caceres murder: ex-Honduran military intelligence officer arrested," 2 March 2018

Honduran authorities have arrested a former military intelligence officer for masterminding the murder of the indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, who was shot dead exactly two years ago today. David Castillo Mejía, the executive president of the company building a dam which Cáceres campaigned against, is the ninth person arrested for the murder, and the fourth with ties to the Honduran military. Castillo Mejía is accused by arresting authorities of providing logistical support and other resources to one of the hitmen already charged. He is the first person to be charged as being the “intellectual author” of Cáceres’s murder and the attempted murder of Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro... Before her death, Cáceres had said that she was scared of Castillo Mejía because of his military intelligence background. She told close friends and family that Castillo Mejía hounded her with texts, phone calls, and in person, appearing without warning at her home, work events and even the airport.

... Desa’s board also includes a former justice minister and several members of the Atala Zablah family, part of one of the richest and most powerful clans in Honduras... News of the arrest broke while protests took place across the country to demand justice for the slain leader – who is one of at least 130 environment and land defenders murdered in Honduras since the 2009 coup... In a statement... Copinh said...  “The arrest is thanks to the work and pressure by national and international organisations. No thanks is due to the attorney general’s office, who have tried everything possible to cover up the truth in this case … Copinh will continue to denounce the entire murderous, criminal structure behind the assassination of our sister Berta Cáceres, of which David Castillo is just one piece.”

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2 March 2018

Honduras arrests alleged mastermind behind activist's murder

Author: Gustavo Palencia, Reuters

Honduran authorities on Friday said they arrested a high-ranking executive of a hydroelectric company on Friday on charges of helping plan the murder of indigenous environmental activist Berta Caceres two years ago. Roberto David Castillo, executive president of Desarrollos Energeticos (DESA), was arrested at an airport in the north of the country, Honduran prosecutors said... Castillo“was in charge of providing logistics and other resources to one of the perpetrators already prosecuted for the crime,” Public Ministry spokesman Juri Mora told Reuters... Castillo is the second alleged mastermind captured for her murder. Eight other people, including company employees, hired assassins and members of the army, have been arrested and tried. Honduras has seen repeated confrontations between indigenous populations with mining and hydroelectric operations. President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who won reelection in December in a vote marred by fraud allegations, has sought to boost investment in such ventures. Members the activist group that Caceres led gathered Friday in front of prosecutors’ offices in the capital to demand the arrest of more prominent local businessmen they allege are connected to the crime.

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