A former dam development company executive has been arrested in the 2016 killing of renowned indigenous and environmental activist Berta Caceres, Honduran authorities announced Friday.
Two years after gunmen barged into her home in the city of La Esperanza, it was the ninth arrest in the case but the first of an alleged “intellectual author” behind the slaying of the Goldman Environmental Prize winner.
A Public Ministry statement identified the suspect as Roberto David Castillo Mejia, an electrical engineer who at the time was president of the company Desarrollos Energeticos SA, or DESA.
He is alleged to have been “the person in charge of providing logistics and other resources to one of the material authors already being prosecuted for the crime.”
Friends, family call for justice
Activists, friends and relatives of Caceres protested in the nation’s capital, Tegucigalpa, on Friday to mark the two-year anniversary of her killing and demand justice.
Caceres and her organization known as Copinh had opposed the company’s Agua Zarca hydroelectric project on her Lenca indigenous people’s lands. She was recognized with the prestigious Goldman award for her activism in 2015.
Last October, an international team of lawyers issued a report saying her killing was the product of a coordinated plot four months in the making.
Based on an outside review conducted at the request of Copinh and Caceres’ family, the report suggested that dam company leadership ordered her assassination and concluded it was “not an isolated incident.”
Mexican activist Gustavo Castro Soto was also wounded in the 2016 attack.
Deadliest place for land defenders
Honduras is the deadliest country on the planet per capita for land defenders, according to the London-based watchdog Global Witness.
The group said in a report last July that 14 were killed there in 2016, including two other members of Copinh.