• A woman holds up a poster with a photo of slain environmental leader Berta Caceres during a protest in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (File)
Arrest made in murder of case of Indigenous activist.
By
Staff Writer

5 Mar 2018 - 2:18 PM  UPDATED 5 Mar 2018 - 2:55 PM

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. DESA had been pushing for the construction of a dam that was opposed by Caceres.

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.

Reuters was not able to immediately contact Castillo or his lawyers.

In a statement, DESA denied involvement in the crime and said Castillo is "innocent," adding that it "rejects this decision that comes from international pressure and smear campaigns of various NGOs on the company."

Erika Guevara, Americas Regional Director, Amnesty International told NITV News said the investigation had been plagued with delays and that all those responsible for the murder of Ms Caceres must be brought to justice.

“Two years on from the assassination of Berta Caceres, the people of Honduras are still awaiting justice. The arrest of a Desa Corporation high-level executive for his alleged participation in the case is too late, and demonstrates the delay in the investigation," she said.

"Human rights defenders and the international community will not rest until all those involved are brought to justice. Now more than ever, we will continue our fight to finally put an end to the impunity that persists in Honduras, not only in Berta’s case, but in response to the constant violence endured by many land and environment defenders. It is a fact that the world is calling for justice for Berta, and the Honduran state is obliged to, without delay, respond to our demand.” 

Caceres, a 43-year-old teacher who won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, was shot dead at her residence on the night of March 2, 2016.

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.

With Reuters