Honduras energy executive arrested over activist murder   

Honduras energy executive arrested over activist murder   

LA ESPERANZA - Agence France-Presse
Honduras energy executive arrested over activist murder

Honduran authorities said they have arrested an energy company executive allegedly behind the high-profile 2016 murder of prominent environmental activist Berta Caceres.

Police detained electrical engineer Roberto David Castillo Mejia “as the intellectual perpetrator” behind Caceres’s murder, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement March 2.

Officials said Castillo had served as CEO of the company Desarrollos Energeticos (DESA) - which Caceres actively campaigned against over plans to build a hydroelectric dam - at the time of the activist’s slaying.

He was “responsible for providing logistics and other resources to the perpetrators,” the statement said.

Caceres opposed DESA’s plans to construct the dam across a river upon which indigenous communities depended.

Two masked gunmen fatally shot the activist at her home in La Esperanza, northwest of the capital Tegucigalpa on March 3, 2016.

She was 44.

Her murder sparked international outrage and highlighted threats to Honduran activists.

At least eight other people have been arrested in connection with the homicide -- among them employees of DESA -- but Caceres’s family has repeatedly demanded the masterminds be brought to justice.

In a statement issued after his arrest, the company said that “Castillo, like all members of DESA, are totally dissociated from the unfortunate incident that ended the life of Ms Berta Caceres.”

“We respectfully request the immediate release of Mr David Castillo,” read the statement.

DESA’s dam project is currently suspended, but it has not been canceled.

Caceres “taught us to defend the river, the land and the forest - we are not going to surrender,” said Paulina Gomez, a member of the Lenca indigenous community, as she rallied some 400 marchers over a loudspeaker late on March 2 along the main street of La Esperanza.

Demonstrators included Lenca members in western Honduras as well as relatives of the late activist.

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