July 6 (UPI) — A court in Honduras Monday found a former energy executive guilty in the 2016 assassination of indigenous environmental activist Berta Caceres.
The court found Roberto David Castillo — former head of the dam company Desarrollos Energeticos, or Desa — guilty of collaborating in the planning of Caceres’ murder and the hiring of the gunmen who shot her.
Caceres is set to be sentenced in August.
The court ruled that Caceres was murdered for leading the campaign to stop the construction of the Agua Zarca dam, which Castillo’s company had been awarded the contract for.
Castillio used paid informants as well as contacts and skills he acquired as an army intelligence officer to monitor Caceres for years and planned and obtained money to pay for her assassination.
Castillo’s defense had claimed he and Caceres were friends but the court ruled phone data proved Castillo only maintained contact with Caceres to obtain information about her plans and whereabouts.
Caceres was shot and killed in her home in 2016 amid her decade-long fight against plans to build the hydroelectric Agua Zarca Dam on the Gualcarque River, which some consider sacred ground.
In 2018, seven other men were convicted in her murder including Sergio Rodríguez, former Desa communities and environment manager and Douglas Bustillo, a former Desa security chief and U.S.-trained former army lieutenant.
Following the verdict, Caceres’ youngest daughter, Laura Zuniga Caceres, said the ruling was “one more step on that long path to justice.”
“This is a collective victory and my message to other communities in similar situations is this: the fight is hard, but in the end, as my mom said, that we are going to triumph and we are going to dismantle the violence against our people,” she said.