Findings By the Attorney General’s Office Regarding the Assassination of Berta Cáceres Are Insufficient

Last May 2nd we found out, through the media, of the actions taken by the Attorney General’s office (AG) and the Technical Criminal Investigation Agency (ATIC in Spanish), which resulted in the capture of four people presumably responsible for the assassination of our beloved Berta. They are: Edilson Duarte Meza (triggerman), Sergio Rodriguez (Manager for social and environmental issues for the company ‘Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA)), Mariano Díaz Chávez (Instructor for the Military Police for Public Order and Special Forces Army Major), and Douglas Geovanny Bustillo (Retired Lieutenant for the Armed Forces and DESA’s former director for security). We know that soon after, Emerson Eusebio Duarte Meza, was captured, and that the AG office made mention of a person named Henry Javier Hernández, who presumably participated in the act but has yet to be captured.

Throughout the week, our lawyers attempted to learn the details of the investigation, for this reason, they turned to the Attorney General’s office, made calls to the prosecutors in charge, and the ATIC. However, each of these efforts failed and we still have no access to any information, which violates the Honduran domestic legislation allowing us participation as victims in the criminal proceeding.

On Friday, 6th of May, a hearing challenging the AG’s accusation against the four defendants, took place lasting until Saturday. In this act before the Court of National Jurisdiction, we were able to participate as a family and through our legal representatives. Also, present were representatives of the UN’s High Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR) monitoring the event.

Based on the information contained in the investigation file submitted before the Court of National Jurisdiction, we clarify the following:

  • There is sufficient evidence indicating that the murder of Berta Cáceres was motivated by the construction of Agua Zarca dam owned by DESA.
  • The most important measures that support the AG’s investigation are:
    1. Telephone records of persons accused of being participants in the crime;
    2. Ballistic testing of the firearm presumed to be the murder weapon;
    3. The evaluation of Berta Caceres’ autopsy and the clinical opinion of the evaluation performed on Gustavo Castro;
    4. Several proceedings about investigations conducted in the field, such as eyewitness accounts, and interviews, among others

However, the aforementioned findings, although positive, are insufficient and incomplete in order to identify all those responsible for the murder of our mother, daughter and partner, and to fully clarify the responsibility of DESA and other institutional actors implicated in the event.

In this regard, we hold the following concerns:

  • The investigation has been anything but thorough. We do not know of any actions or thorough proceedings to determine all of the intellectual authors of the crime. That is, there have not been investigations on the possible involvement of other army members and/or the institutional involvement of this security apparatus in the crime. Nor proceedings on the participation and / or responsibility of the directors or economic stakeholders that make up DESA.
  • There are no particular accusations. The indictment does not specify which role each defendant played and only alludes to them in general statements as a criminal group.
  • Absence of evidence. There is nothing in the court file about the confessions from the captured men presumably involved in the crime, in fact, at the initial hearing they all denied it. Further, there’s no video that shows how the murder was executed, contrary to what has been said by ATIC to the media.
  • Re-victimization and lack of access to information. In regards to our request to have access to information about the case, Judge Lisseth Vallecillo Banegas stated that she recognized our right, but that she was not qualified to order the Public Prosecutor to provide us information since, “the authority to direct the investigation and promote the criminal accusation corresponds to the prosecutorial body, thus the judicial branch cannot intervene in the activities of another institution.” Thereby, without any legal basis, we were excluded –once again — from the process of investigation and re-victimized.

With the Objective of Letting the Truth Be Known,

That Justice Be Done Without Impunity For Those Responsible,

We Renew Our Request to the Honduran Authorities:

  • To accept the participation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and with its support to appoint an interdisciplinary group of experts to contribute in the investigation of the murder of our mother, daughter and partner, in order to strength and re-direct the investigation to include all authors, particularly those who took the decision to execute the crime.
  • To be allowed to participate with an active role in the investigation process, and to be provided of unrestricted access to the case file.
  • The cessation of our re-victimization as mother, daughters and son of Berta Caceres, and the implementation of comprehensive protection measures to prevent the continuous threats.

We urge the Human Rights Prosecutor, the National Commissioner of Human Rights ( CONADEH) and the UNHCHR, within their mandates’ framework, to take action with pronouncements about the victims’ right to truth and access to justice in a process of this nature.

We appeal to national and international solidarity groups to hear the voices of the family and COPINH, and to insist that the Honduran authorities amend the deficiencies denounced above and accept our requests.

We reiterate that all we seek is truth and justice in the murder of our Berta, if achieved, we all win.

One Comment

  1. It is painful to hear that once again, in yet another investigation where human rights are at stake, the Honduran ATIC, Attorney General Office and prosecutors are operating in secrecy, withholding information from those for whom the information is most relevant. The lack of transparency strongly suggests that the investigation is covering up the truth of what transpired, especially related to who is responsible for this hideous crime.

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