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.

Latest Update from Berta’s Family: Four Defendants to Stand Trial, Capture Coincides with visit to White House, FMO’s PR Fail

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Four Sent to Pre-trial Detention Ahead of Trial

The four defendants whom the government claims were responsible for the assassination of Berta Caceres were sent to the national penitentiary for pre-trial detention on Sunday. There is, of course, a considerable amount of danger for these men in jail where they could be easily eliminated. Berta Caceres’ family continues to call for an independent international organization conducted by IACHR because the government does not have the will, capacity or experience to investigate and convict not just the triggermen but the intellectual authors as well. Additionally, at least two of the defendants have strong ties to the military, and other state institutions have also been implicated which means the investigation has been seriously compromised.

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Honduras: 5 charged with murder over killing of activist Berta Cáceres

Cáceres’ family has been demanding an investigation by an independent international panel into her killing.

Her daugher, Olivia Zúñiga Cáceres, said the arrests were just the beginning of a long road to prosecution.
“Real justice is to punish the intellectual authors behind this,” she told CNN en Español.

Read more.

Honduran Journalist’s Facebook Post May Have Led to Assassination Attempt

Well-known and respected Honduran journalist Félix Molina posted an damning article about the military and government connections to the dam Berta Cáceres and COPINH were fighting against. Later that day, an attempt was made on his life.

What follows is a translation of his post:

May 2 at 9:09 am
Memory pricks until it draws blood (original post here)  

It is today that the cabinet minister Pacheco Tinoco must talk about the crime of Bertha, well, a direct relative of his is part of DESA. And the President of that company, Roberto David Castillo Mejia nephew of the eternal congressman Rodolfo Irias Navas of the National Party for La Ceiba, Atlantida; a military man, graduate of West Point (2004), of the Department of Intelligence and Counterintelligence of the Joint High Command also. And the Atala family, the same. And also those who collaborated with strategic information about the victim.
The initial report by the Police burns them, and also includes a congressman from Santa Barbara and an ex-military man close to the authorities of the National Party.
The contract between DESA and the ENEE (Number 043-2010) is signed by Roberto Martinez Lozano, dated June 3, 2010 and published in the Gazette on December 31 of the same year.

Desa is the company building the dam, “Agua Zarca” in the muncipality of San Francisco de Ojuera in Santa Bar ara on the Gualcarque River considered to be an ancestral path of the Lenca indigenous people.

The contract has the DESA matriculation number for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tegucigalpa, 2509060 and if you go to the pagehttp://190.5.103.114/clienteremoto/imagenes.aspx you can see the founding documents and updates for DESA.

The most important points are the following:
1. DESA was constituted in May 2009 by the original shareholders, the brothers Roberto Antonio Abate Ponce and Geovanny Isidro Abate Ponce.
2. In June 2010 the Administrative Council of Desa was joined by Jorge Fa ian Corea Lobo as president and Felix Rolando Alvarenga Castilla, as secretary. Francisco Ayes Callejas was named as its special executor.
3. In November of 2011 the public capital of Desa was raised by 25,0000 Lps to a minimum of 50 million Lps and a maximan of 143 million Lps. In that month the company Potencia y Energiz de Mesoamerica S.A. (PEMSA) joined the investors represented by Gerardo Caarrasco Escobar with 16,650 million LP in capital; and Invesiones Las Jacarandas S.A. de C.V. represetned by Jose Eduardo Atala Zablah with capital of 33,350 Lps, who was immediately nambed President of the Assembly of DESA, and Roberto Pacheco Reyes was named secretary; Jacobo Nicolas Atala ZZablah, vice President; Jorge Corea Lobo, first vocal, Jose Eduardo Atala Zablah, second vocal; Roberto Pacheco Reyes, secretary, Tanya Romero Baca and Pedro Atala Zablah as alternate vocales; Karla Lopez Matamoros as commissioner for the partnership (sociedad).
4. In distinct moments the following have been legal representatives of DESA: Carolina Liseth Castillo, David Gerardo Agurcia Mercadal. Permits granted by SERNA in favor of DESA were: Resolution 1661-2009, December 14, 2009 and Resolution 283-2010 January 22 2010 (a few days after the “transfer” of Michiletti to Pepe Lobo).

The President of DESA, Roberto David Castillo Mejia, is the direct nephew of the eternal congressman Rodolfo Iria Nava, of the National Party of Atlantida, he is a military man, graduated from West Point (2004) and worked in the Department of Intelligence and Counterintelligence of the military’s Joint High Command. He joined the ENEE in 2008 as a Technical Advisor during the administration of the Intervening Board ordered by President Mel Zelaya and later was named by the lawyer Rixi Moncada as the Coordinator of Control of Management/Administration. He was the object of a report by the TSC for having received a double salary (from the government) one as a military officer and one as an employee of the ENEE, and also becasue his business had over-charged the armed forces for equipment sold to them.

Berta’s Family Reiterates Call for IACHR Investigation Despite Capture of Alleged Culprits

May 5, 2016

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1) The Honduran government made a surprise announcement on Monday morning claiming to have caught the culprits that assassinated Berta. The most impressive detail is that they were able to snap many well-posed photos of the culprits and clearly defined ATIC agents on hand.

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Dems want oversight after 4 arrested for Honduran activist’s murder

Dozens of House Democrats are pressing the Obama administration to make sure an international human rights panel is “actively involved” in the investigation of the murder of an environmental and indigenous rights activist in Honduras.

Shortly after four people were arrested Monday for the March murder of Berta Cáceres, 59 House Democrats told Secretary of State John Kerry that the human rights arm of the Organization of American States should be involved in the probe, despite the Honduran government’s opposition.

Read more.

Statement by the family of Berta Cáceres on recent arrests in Honduras

We demand the participation of an international, independent commission of experts to investigate the murder of our beloved Berta given the recent actions by the Honduran Attorney General

Olivia, Berta, Laura and Salvador Zúniga Cáceres (Berta Cáceres’s daughters and son), Austra Bertha Flores (her mother), and the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), each a victim of the assassination of Berta Cáceres under Honduran law, were surprised this morning by the Attorney General and ATIC (Criminal Investigation Agency) announcement in relation to the capture of persons involved in this vile crime against our beloved Berta.

The family and COPINH, as well as all Honduran society and the international community demand justice and truth regarding the assassination of our Berta.

Because we have been denied our right under Honduran law to participate in the investigative process from the beginning, we have no way of knowing if these arrests are the product of an exhaustive and diligent investigation, nor do we know if they include those who ordered the assassination. The news of the alleged participation of active and retired members of the military linked to DESA in the assassination should be investigated further and indicates involvement by state agents which is enough reason for the immediate suspension of and a definitive end to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project.

We regret that the investigations conducted by the Attorney General have moved forward without our participation and that our voices have not been heard.

Today, two months since the assassination of our dear Berta, we continue being victimized, having to learn of any news through the media rather than the official channels afforded to us by law.

Our ongoing lack of confidence in the Attorney General’s office has been fomented by its own actions, which lack transparency and ignore the victims. If the State has truly conducted an exhaustive, diligent investigation based on scientific proof that looks into both the plotters and perpetrators of this crime, then today they should accept the participation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights so that a group of independent experts can analyze the actions carried out thus far and establish whether they are consistent with the highest international standards of due diligence.

If the Attorney General’s office and its agency have carried out their work correctly, there should be no fear of having the commission that the IACHR has already made available begin its investigation immediately.

What we seek is truth and justice in the case of our beloved Berta’s assassination. If we achieve that, everybody wins.

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Costa Rica’s Former President Weighs In; Berta’s daughter, COPINH go to Europe

April 27, 2016

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1) Ex-Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Oscar Arias, urges JOH to allow IACHR investigation
“I’m sure we agree that in a case such as this one, involving the brutal murder of a nationally and internationally recognized social leader, it is important that the investigation be seen as transparent and impartial by the victim’s family and by the general public. This is why I respectfully urge you to consider granting the family’s request to allow the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to form a commission of independent international experts to join the murder investigation.”

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