Home » Blog » Honduras: Arrest Warrant Issued Over Murder of Activist Berta Cáceres
Featured General News Global News News North America South America

Honduras: Arrest Warrant Issued Over Murder of Activist Berta Cáceres

Authorities in Honduras have issued an arrest warrant for the alleged mastermind in the case of the murdered Indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres.

Cáceres was gunned down in her home in March 2016 in retaliation for leading a campaign to stop construction of an internationally financed hydroelectric dam.

On Friday, a court issued an arrest warrant for Daniel Atala Midence after prosecutors formally accused the former financial manager of the dam company, Desa, with masterminding the murder.

Atala Midence, who is part of one of the most powerful economic and political families in the country, ran Desa along with the company president, David Castillo.

Castillo, a US-trained former intelligence officer, was last year sentenced to 22 years and six months for his role in ordering and planning the assassination.

Atala Midence was summoned to give evidence in Castillo’s 2021 trial due to his role in running operations – which included authorising payments to informants used to monitor Cáceres. But Atala Midence was excused at the last minute after state prosecutors revealed that he was under investigation for the murder.

Atala Midence’s father and two uncles, the Atala Zablah brothers, are the majority shareholders in the dam company. There is no suggestion from prosecutors that they were involved in the assassination.

Cáceres’s children welcomed the news of the charges and arrest warrant. Her oldest daughter, Olivia Zúniga Cáceres, who is the Honduran ambassador to Cuba, said the family was “praying for justice”.

“We hope for justice and an end to the impunity,” said lawyer Victor Fernández, who represents the family.

Cáceres, the coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), was best known for defending indigenous Lenca territory and natural resources, but she was also a respected political analyst, women’s rights defender and anti-capitalist campaigner.

She was shot dead by hired hitmen on 2 March 2016, two days before her 45th birthday, after years of threats linked to her opposition of the 22-megawatt Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque river, which is considered sacred by the Lenca people. In addition to Castillo, seven others – including two other US-trained former military officers – have already been convicted for their role in the murder.

The dam project on the Gualcarque river was sanctioned after the 2009 coup ushered in a pro-business authoritarian government, even though it had not complied with national and international environmental and community requirements.

President Xiomara Castro, who is in Dubai for the UN climate talks, refused to comment on the case.

Source: The Guardian