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  HOME | Central America

Witness to Honduran Activist’s Murder Waits to Hear from Prosecutors

MEXICO CITY – A Mexican man who witnessed the March 2016 murder of Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader Berta Caceres said on Monday that prosecutors in Honduras have yet to seek his help in identifying the killers.

Gustavo Castro, who was at the victim’s home in the western city of La Esperanza on March 3 when several assailants burst in and fatally shot Caceres, told a press conference here that he got a good look at the face of one of the attackers.

Honduran authorities’ failure to request his assistance “is evidence that they don’t want me to collaborate with this case,” he said.

Seven suspects are in custody.

Wounded in the attack, the Mexican environmental campaigner is the only eyewitness to the crime.

As a founder and coordinator of the indigenous alliance Copinh, Caceres, 44, led demonstrations against hydroelectric projects that she said threatened the environment.

Relatives, friends and supporters of Caceres have been joined by both Honduran and international organizations in criticizing the murder probe.

In late September, the case file went missing after a judge was carjacked in Tegucigalpa.

The loss of the file demonstrated “a recurring irresponsibility” in the administration of justice and “a dangerous and permanent logic of impunity,” Caceres family attorney Victor Fernandez told EFE in October.

Fernandez suggested the carjackers may have been acting on the orders of the people who had Caceres killed for her opposition to economic policies “based on the extraction of the natural wealth” of Honduras.

Miguel Angel de los Santos, a lawyer representing Gustavo Castro, said Monday that if Honduran authorities don’t request his testimony, they will seek alternative ways to enable him to participate “to the degree that this contributes to revealing the truth.”

During the same press conference, Castro said that he filed a complaint last month before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about Honduran authorities’ conduct toward him following Caceres’ murder.

Though Castro was granted permission to return to Mexico after giving statements to police and prosecutors, Honduran authorities stopped him at the airport in Tegucigalpa and forced him to remain in the Central American country for another three weeks before a judge intervened to reverse the injunction.

Castro said that compelling him to stay in Honduras left him vulnerable to the same forces who were behind the murder of Caceres.

 

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