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  • The suspects believed to be behind the killing of environmental activist Lesbia Yaneth Urquia Urquia, pictured, were detained on Wednesday.

    The suspects believed to be behind the killing of environmental activist Lesbia Yaneth Urquia Urquia, pictured, were detained on Wednesday. | Photo: Archive

Published 15 July 2016

Police said a dispute over inheritance was the motive, though many COPINH supporters initially believed that Urquia was targeted because of her environmental activism.

Three people were detained Wednesday in connection to the murder of Lesbia Yaneth Urquia Urquia, an environmental activist and a supporter of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH.

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El Heraldo reported that Jose Adan Rivera Perez, his underage brother who cannot be named, and Manuel Orlando Lopez Ortiz were arrested on suspicion of murder, with the latter identified as the alleged mastermind of the crime.

Lopez Ortiz was further identified as the brother-in-law of Urquia. La Pensa reported that a dispute over an inheritance was the alleged motive behind the environmental activist's murder.

The Technical Criminal Investigation Agency, a body of the Honduran Public Prosecutor, said they believed Lopez hired the two assassins, who carried out the killing.

“We have shown with scientific evidence before the courts that these people are the alleged perpetrators,” said Technical Criminal Investigation Agency Director Ricardo Castro, as quoted by La Prensa.

Castro added that Lopez participated in the funeral of his sister-in-law, even acting as a pallbearer.

The killing of Urquia drew international attention due to her links to COPINH and Berta Caceres, who was gunned down in March.

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Many COPINH supporters initially believed that Urquia, like Caceres, was targeted as a result of her environmental activism.

According to La Voz Lenca, the communications arm of COPINH, Urquia was an active member of the activist group and fought against the building of hydroelectric power plants on Indigenous land. One of Urquia's children insisted, however, that she was only a supporter and not a member.

Urquia was found dead earlier this month near a garbage dump with severe head trauma. Police added that they had found a machete they believed was used in the crime.

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