COPINH calls for international support during David Castillo trial

“We have been fighting for the memory of Berta Cáceres for five years,” says Bertha Zúniga, daughter of the environmental defender

DESA Guilty - Justice for Berta. Image: RWR

On 30 March, Bertha Zúniga, General Coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations from Honduras (COPINH) held an online press conference, in which she called for the support of human rights organisations and activists during the trial of the former president of Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) company. David Castillo is accused of being one of the masterminds behind Berta Cáceres’ murder on 2 March 2016.

Zúniga highlighted the importance of this new trial, which comes three years after the prosecution of the perpetrators of the crime. She considers that DESA, “with its violent imposition on the Rio Blanco community, established a pattern of persecution and permanent attacks against COPINH as an organisation and Berta Cáceres as a woman, social leader and activist in that territory.”

David Castillo’s trial “represents a key piece that is connected to the masterminds who still go unpunished. This is important in order for the Honduran government to open up other proceedings and put an end to the impunity enjoyed by these large economic actors in our country, who continue escaping justice,” she added.

Zúniga Cáceres believes that the trial will expose how Castillo used his training in military intelligence, for instance, to harass the organisation. It is also worth noting that prior to being the president of DESA, Castillo was part of the state institutions in charge of developing energy projects and was involved in several cases of corruption.

The legal representatives of the Cáceres family also want to expose the aggravating circumstances surrounding this political femicide, such as the fact that Berta Cáceres was a woman, and the context of systematic attacks that the Lenca defender faced in the lead up to her murder.

Lastly, Bertha stated that the trial “will be a challenge” due to the political context in the country: “a context of impunity and persecution against territorial defenders,” she said.

For these reasons, knowing what has happened with other judicial proceedings “we need the monitoring and support of human rights organisations from April 6, the day the trial is scheduled to start”. She also warned of a possible delay, as has happened many times on the way to this trial.

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