Archive

ShareThis Page
7 found guilty in killing of Honduran environmental activist | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

7 found guilty in killing of Honduran environmental activist

The Associated Press
494371494371b43f8bb982214fcd99625ced4c2b869d
Laura Zuniga watches a video on a mobile phone as the murderers of her mother, the Honduran indigenous and environmental rights activist Berta Caceres, are found guilty, outside the court room in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Seven of the eight accused were found guilty and will be sentenced on January 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)
4943714943716cd80fe825e34dfb8e1589f3ce01d146
Douglas Bustillo, top left, and Mariano Diaz Chavez, top right, Oscar Aroldo Torres Velazquez, bottom left, and Henry Javier Hernandez Rodriguez, bottom right, accused in the murder of Honduran indigenous and environmental rights activist Berta Caceres, are led in handcuffs to court by police in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Seven of the eight accused of Caceres' murder were found guilty by a court and will be sentence on January 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)
49437149437166db042258cf49bba4fc5f1c06d343f7
A man holds a sign with the portrait of Honduran indigenous and environmental rights activist Berta Caceres, that reads in Spanish 'We demand justice and punishment,' outside of a courtroom in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Seven of the eight accused in the murder of Caceres were found guilty and will be sentenced on January 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)
4943714943718dd93a80a0714f4c8d528ac0e1930df6
Berta Austria flores, mother of Honduran indigenous and environmental rights activist Berta Caceres, enters the courtroom where Caceres' murderers are being tried, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Seven of the eight accused in the murder of Caceres were found guilty and will be sentenced on January 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)
494371494371ba07c5c4f30442339cb9e934de3c1868
Elvin Rapalo, left, and Sergio Rodriguez, accused in the murder of Honduran indigenous and environmental rights activist Berta Caceres, are led in handcuffs to court by police in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Rapalo, Rodriguez and other five accused were found guilty by a court and will be sentenced on January 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — A Honduran court found seven people guilty of participating in the 2016 murder of prize-winning indigenous and environmental rights activist Berta Caceres, while acquitting an eighth suspect in a case that has drawn international attention.

In a unanimous ruling released Thursday, three judges found that Elvin Rapalo, Henry Hernandez, Edilson Duarte and Oscar Galeas carried out the killing of Caceres, who was shot inside her home in La Esperanza in western Honduras one year after winning the Goldman Environmental Prize for her leadership against a dam project.

They face up to 30 years in prison for the murder conviction, and their sentences will be announced Jan. 10.

The judges issued guilty verdicts on lesser charges for army officer Mariano Diaz, ex-soldier Douglas Bustillo and Sergio Rodriguez, a manager of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, which Caceres had opposed. Emerson Duarte, Edilson’s brother, was acquitted. He had been accused of covering up the crime.

The ruling did not satisfy Caceres’ family, which wants those behind the killing to be prosecuted as well.

Roberto David Castillo Mejia, who was executive president of the company leading the construction work, DESA, when Caceres was killed, is accused by prosecutors of organizing the logistics of the killing. He is in prison awaiting trial.

The company has said Castillo and its other employees were “totally unconnected” to the murder.

Friends, family, activists and members of Caceres’ Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras demonstrated outside the court.

“We’re going for them. … Capture the intellectual authors of this crime!” the protesters shouted.

Her organization released a statement saying the latest ruling only affects “the lowest link in the criminal structure.”

“We regret that the actions so far have not been directed against those who ordered the death of Berta or those who paid for her murder,” said Omar Menjivar, a lawyer for Caceres’ lawyer.

Activists held up a banner reading “The Atala are missing,” a reference to the Atala Zablah family, shareholders of DESA, which protesters accuse of being behind the actions against Caceres.

Caceres had reported receiving death threats and her family said there was collusion between the company and state security forces.

The Honduran government has been under significant pressure from abroad to solve the killing in a country where impunity runs high.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.