Trial for murder of Honduran activist Berta Caceres delayed

Court indefinitely suspends trial of eight accused in 2016 murder of prominent environment, indigenous rights activist.

    Farmers carry a banner with an image of slain environmental rights activist Berta Caceres during a protest to demand justice for her death [File: Jorge Cabrera/Reuters]
    Farmers carry a banner with an image of slain environmental rights activist Berta Caceres during a protest to demand justice for her death [File: Jorge Cabrera/Reuters]

    Honduras's Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended the start of a trial of eight men accused in the 2016 killing of prize-winning Honduran indigenous and environmental rights activist Berta Caceres.

    Judiciary spokesman Melvin Duarte said there are five related filings pending at the criminal appeals court that have to be resolved.

    Caceres's family and the organisation she led said Monday in a statement that the court where the trial was to be held had not guaranteed the rights of the victims or the accused and that it would not be impartial. They petitioned that the case is moved to another court.

    Caceres was killed on March 2, 2016, inside her home in La Esperanza in western Honduras, one year after winning the Goldman Environmental Prize for her leadership and activism. 

    She was a vocal opponent of a project to build a hydroelectric dam across a river on which indigenous communities were dependent. 

    Prior to her death, she said she received death threats from employees of Desarrollos Energeticos (DESA), the firm behind the project. In the past, DESA has denied any involvement in the murder of Caceres. 

    In March, authorities arrested and charged David Castillo Mejia with being the "intellectual author" of the killing while he was CEO of DESA. He is currently awaiting trial in a separate case. 

    Calls for broader inquiry

    Caceres's family and her supporters have repeatedly called for a broader inquiry into the rights activist's murder. 

    Last year, a team of international lawyers said Honduran authorities had evidence implicating high-level business executives and state agents in Caceres's murder but had yet to arrest them. 

    It also said that there were serious flaws in the government's investigation of the killing. 

    Caceres's murder was condemned internationally and put the spotlight on the dangers of environmental activism in Honduras and worldwide. 

    Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental activists, with more than 120 land defenders and other activists killed in the country since 2010. 

    Honduras: Blood and the Water

    Fault Lines

    Honduras: Blood and the Water

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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