Nov. 2 (UPI) — Evidence relating to the killing of Honduran activist Berta Caceres shows the plot was months in the making and involved a company Caceres protested, a group of experts concluded.
In a 92-page report commissioned by Caceres’ indigenous human rights organization, a five-member panel of lawyers and academics from the United States, Columbia and Guatemala found evidence of a web of people and groups working together to plan the killing.
A number of intruders shot Caceres in March 2016 in her home.
“The existing proof is conclusive regarding the participation of numerous state agents, high-ranking executives and employees of DESA in the planning, execution and cover-up of the assassination,” the lawyers wrote in the report.
Desarrollos Energéticos, known as DESA, is Honduran company who had plans to build a dam across a river critical to the survival of Caceres’ indigenous community.
Caceres opposed the company’s plans and attracted international attention for her leading role in protesting the project on behalf of her indigenous Lenca community. Caceres, 44, had won multiple awards for her activism, including the prestigious Shalom Award from the Society for Justice and Peace at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in 2012 and the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015.
Desarrollos Energéticos denied committing “acts of violence and intimidation” towards Caceres, saying the report “contains false and malicious interpretations from certain conversations taken out of context.”
Eight suspects from the company are in custody, including Sergio Rodríguez Orellana, the social and environment manager for the company, and Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, who was Desarrollos Energéticos’ director of security until 2015.
The company called the move to arrest its executives “unjust.”
However, lawyers for the Caceres family say that the government hasn’t arrested the people who hired Bustillo to allegedly plan the shooting.
“What the public ministry has yet to do is indict the people who hired Bustillo to plan the operation,” a lawyer for the Caceres family told the New York Times.
The investigation revealed a “criminal structure comprised of company executives and employees, state agents and criminal gangs that used violence, threats and intimidation” to achieve their goals, which reportedly included killing Caceres.