A hydroelectric company that environmental activist Berta Caceres had fought, plotted with Honduran military and security forces to kill the Indigenous leader in March 2016, an independent commission has found.
The investigation was carried out by the International Group of Advisors and Expert Persons (GAIPE), comprised of several lawyers from Guatemala, Colombia, Holland and the United States. Its findings were based on dozens of interviews, court records and partial access to evidence provided by government investigators.
The GAIPE found that high-level executives of Energy Development SA (DESA) and government officials began planning the assassination of Caceres at least four months before they carried it out.
Roxana Althozt, a lawyer with GAIPE said, "DESA high-level directors, [Honduran] state agents and criminal elements” formed a network to “assassinate Berta Caceres."
Honduran authorities have arrested eight people for the murder. However, the GAIPE investigation points to other suspects.
Caceres was an important and vocal activist within the Civic Council of Popular Organisations and Honduran Indigenous (COPIHN).
For more than two decades she worked to protect the lands of the Lenca Indigenous peoples, and successfully fought DESA’s construction of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the White River, despite constant death threats and the militarisation of the area by Honduran forces.
A year before Caceres was gunned down in her home in northeastern Honduras, she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Award for her continued environmental activism.
Caceres' family and COPIHN called for the creation of an independent panel in November last year to investigate the activist's death. The team read through more than 2000 pages related to the case, including "communications intercepted by Honduran authorities,” according to Reuters.
Althozt said that DESA and police officials collaborated to follow and plot Caceres’ death. They also reported other environmental activists in the area were followed.
[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]