Honduras: New suspect identified in 2016 murder of environmental activist Berta Caceres

The Honduran Public Prosecutor's Office said on Friday that it had issued an arrest warrant for a new suspect in the 2016 murder of indigenous activist and environmental defender Berta Caceres.

Berta Caceres, a 43-year-old Honduran environmental activist, was murdered on Thursday by unknown assailants who shot her as she was returning home in La Esperanza. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

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Coordinator of the Citizens' Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), Berta Caceres opposed a hydroelectric dam project on the Gualcarque River in western Honduras. Prosecutors have established that Ms. Caceres was murdered for this reason in early March 2016 in the village of La Esperanza in western Honduras by hired killers who shot her dead in her home in the middle of the night.

In a statement on Friday, the prosecutor's office said, without disclosing names, that it had "submitted a request for prosecution accompanied by an arrest warrant against another person involved in the murder."

Eight people have already been convicted of his murder, which prosecutors say was punishment for his action against the proposed hydroelectric dam on indigenous lands. Of the eight, seven were sentenced in 2018 to between <> and <> years in prison for the murder of Berta Caceres and the attempted murder of a Mexican national who was with her at the time.

Then in 2020, Roberto David Castillo, executive chairman of the company Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA) in charge of the construction of the dam, was sentenced to twenty-two and a half years in prison. The Honduran Supreme Court of Justice has convicted the former officer, who trained at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, "for his participation in the murder of environmental defender Berta Isabel Caceres Flores."

Read alsoMurder of Berta Cáceres: "We must find the real masterminds in order to judge and punish them"

At least 177 environmental defenders were killed worldwide in 2022, according to a report by the NGO Global Witness published in September 2023. Between 2012 and 2022, this figure exceeded 1900 murders. And Latin America is by far the worst-hit area, with nearly nine out of ten deaths.

Read alsoAn environmental defender is killed every two days around the world

Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres was murdered on March 3, 2016. In Latin America, environmental defenders are heavily targeted. AP - Eduardo Verdugo

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