COPINH Updates on the Case of Berta Cáceres and Gustavo Castro

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Source: COPINH / The Dawn News / January 30, 2018

The case of the assassination of renowned indigenous environmental activist from Honduras Berta Cáceres and the attempted assassination of Gustavo Castro in March 2016 was denounced worldwide, but despite the massive international attention and pressure, the case remains in impunity. Demanding justice for Berta Cáceres, Gustavo Castro, their families, their comrades and COPINH, is to demand justice for all victims of racist, capitalist, patriarchal state violence against those that dare to dream and fight for a world without injustice.

Here is a brief update from COPINH on the beginning of the trial, and below a statement from COPINH about the coming two year anniversary of the assassination of Berta.

COPINH Updates on the Case of Berta Cáceres and Gustavo Castro

On January 30, two hearings were held to swear in two specialists (a financial analyst and a telecommunications analyst) proposed by the District Attorney prior to the trial of introduction of evidence.

As of these hearings, the legal process of the case of the comrades Berta Cáceres and Gustavo Castro will be carried out in the Court of National Jurisdiction, with a set tribunal made up of three judges.

In summary, the hearing of swearing in the experts is reflected in the situation of the country: the District Attorney in supposed representation of the common interests, acting in a timid manner in front of the powerful. Capital, represented by the private defense attorneys of the criminals from DESA, obstructing the possibility for the search for the truth. And lastly, as a living reflection of Honduras, the room was militarized with members of the army who carried assault weapons trying to intimidate the spectators.

This hearing was the beginning of the trial of the case of Berta, a taste of the torturous legal process that does not even attempt to name the intellectual authors, but exonerates the State saying that justice was made in this emblematic case of Honduras.

The hearing to swear in the experts was suspended to fulfill the desires of the defense, amongst those, the private representation of Sergio Rodríguez (social, environmental and communications manager of DESA) composed of exclusive lawyers, Celeste Cerrato and Jair López and additionally by the lawyer Juan Cantillano who had accused comrade Berta in representation of DESA in the past. The hearing will resume today February 2.

The hearing to show evidence is still suspended.

Two years after the assassination of the woman who dreamed of re-founding Honduras

Today marks 23 months since the assassination of indigenous leader Berta Cáceres and we are about to reach the second anniversary of her passing. We remember this sister on these days, with many people eager to know how far the case has progressed over these two years and what has changed in Honduras with the revelation of the extensive human rights violations by extractive corporations who profit off of energy production.

As of now, COPINH continues to struggle for true justice and to push, as a first step, to break the media silence around her case and confront the irregularities that permeate the process.

In May of this year the preventative detention* for the eight people detained in 2016 will expire, including the direct perpetrators of the crime as well as intermediaries such as DESA employee Sergio Rodríguez and armed forces major Mariano Díaz who coordinated the assassination and served as an instructor for the military police.

At this point the Honduran Attorney General and judicial authorities are flailing around desperately to try to move through and close the case by sentencing only those who they have detained. The final arguments are expected in the case halfway through this year. Notwithstanding, the organization, the Honduran people and the international community remain unsatisfied in the face of a lack of action to capture the masterminds who are linked to the powerful and untouchable Honduran oligarchy.

It is worth mentioning that today is the swearing-in hearing for the specialists proposed by the Attorney General to analyze the telephone recordings and financial information in the national sentencing tribunal, which will decide the case.

Regarding the second point about what has changed in Honduras since her death, very little can be said. The concession remains for the hydroelectric dam ferociously defended not only by private enterprise but also by the renewable energy producers who continue to sew hatred against the organizations that challenge the installation of numerous deadly projects, ruining their lucrative business.

The government wants to secure the investments of national and international corporations in this business by approving a deceitful law supposedly about “prior, free and informed consent for indigenous peoples” but has been unable to take the final step after strong questioning at a national and international level.

The power structures that protect the deadly project against which Berta Cáceres fought, have strengthened themselves with electoral fraud, carried out to ensure continuation of the status quo and protection of private economic interests.

What Berta Cáceres contributed to today’s Honduras is the national uprising that continues without giving up on the same vision that would be on at the front of Berta Cáceres’s mind: the re-foundation of Honduras that no president will be able to carry out, that can only be carried out by the people, the same people who didn’t give up in the streets even as they confronted the violence of the military and their killer weapons, which is the only path to profound change for Honduras.

In the meantime COPINH is convening the “25 years of Life and Justice Gathering” for this 22nd-24th of March to deepen work around the case of comrades Berta and Gustavo and talk about the struggle to this point and what the future holds for Berta’s vision in a country that needs it now more than ever.

*The preventative detention can be extended just once for six more months, which would expire in November of this year.

 

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