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  • Activists demand justice for murder of Lenca Honduran Berta Caceres. 2016

    Activists demand justice for murder of Lenca Honduran Berta Caceres. 2016 | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 March 2019

Sixteen government officials and DESA execs were charged with fraud and abuse of power for trying to push through the Agua Zarca dam that Caceres fought against.

On the three year anniversary of the killing of Honduran Indigenous activist Berta Caceres, public officials say they are indicting sixteen people on several counts of corruption in connection to the Agua Zarca dam that Caceres fought against until her 2016 death.

RELATED: 
Honduran CEO Charged With Planning Murder Of Berta Caceres

Sixteen people, including former state officials and current CEO of Energy Development (DESA) Roberto David Castillo Mejia, are being charged with fraud, falsifying state documents, abuse of authority, and negotiating illicit contracts in connection with the construction of the Agua Zarca dam that DESA was trying to build on Indigenous Lenca land in southwest Honduras until 2017.

Castillo Mejia was formally charged last month for masterminding Caceres’ assassination. Seven DESA and military men were convicted on murder charges for her death last November.

Co-founder and leader of the Civic Council of Peoples' and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), Caceres was gunned down in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras Mar. 3, 2016 by now-convicted members of the Honduran military and executives of the Energy Development company (DESA).

Caceres won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, gaining the activist worldwide attention for her tireless fight against the dam she and others said would cause widespread damage to the biodiversity and water sources of rural southwest Honduras and to the Lenca people and the Campesinos who live there.

 

During the Mar. 4 press conference, the OAS-backed Anti-Corruption and Impunity Mission in Honduras (Maccih) and the Anti-Corruption and Impunity Special Prosecutors (Ufecic) presented a four-page document outlining how the former government employees and DESA executives colluded to try to get the hydroelectric dam built.  

"It has not been an easy task. We have done (a lot) of work and today we present the evidence that there were several irregular acts committed to get the Agua Zarca concession," Maccih prosecutor Ana Maria Calderon told reporters Monday. She added this is the ninth special investigation into the dam’s construction.

The panel of prosecutors said they had ample evidence to indict based on the 40 legal complaints Caceres had made against DESA and state institutions while she was alive.

"The line (of evidence) presented today arose from the more than 40 complaints presented by Berta Caceres about alleged irregularities in the concession of water resources," said Calderon.

In addition to being charged with orchestrating the activist’s death, Maccih and Ufecic are charging Castillo Mejia with fraud for working simultaneously for the private company DESA and the state-run National Energy Electric Company (ENEE), an arrangement that gave him insider information and enabled him to grant DESA the hydroelectric dam contract under “irregular” conditions from ENEE.

Other defendants in the case are the former-Honduran Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Dario Roberto Cardona, the ex-manager of ENEE, Roberto Martinez Lozano and another DESA executive.

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