Roberto David Castillo Biography Roberto David Castillo Wiki
A former US-trained Honduran army intelligence officer and president of an internationally funded energy company was sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison for the murder of indigenous environmentalist Berta Cáceres.
Goldman Conservation Award winner Cáceres was shot dead by gunmen on March 2, 2016, two days before her 45th birthday after years of being threatened for opposing the dam for 22 years. megawatt of Agua Zarca on the Gualcarque river.
On Monday, Roberto David Castillo – the former head of the hydroelectric company Desarrollos Energéticos, or Desa – was convicted for his role in ordering and planning the murder.
— Honduras Now (@HondurasNow) June 20, 2022
The verdict came nearly a year after Castillo was found guilty and failed to reach the maximum sentence of 25 years, a move condemned by Cáceres supporters by the Tegucigalpa High Court. Castillo is required to conduct public works coordinated by the prison service as part of his sentencing and is responsible for any future civil lawsuits brought by the victims, the court said.
Cáceres, the coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), was best known for defending the indigenous territory and natural resources of the Lenca, but was also a respected political analyst, advocate for women’s rights and activist anti-capitalist activist.
Her youngest daughter, Laura Zúñiga Cáceres, welcomed the sentence as another step in the fight for justice. “This is an important step forward, but those responsible for the crime still enjoy impunity thanks to their political and economic power. As victims of this crime, we, her family, the members of Copinh and the Lenca people will continue to demand justice from the state of Honduras.
Castillo is the eighth person convicted of the murder of Cáceres. The court ruled that she was killed for leading the campaign to stop construction of the dam, causing delays and financial losses for the dam company controlled by members of a powerful clan.
Castillo has used paid informants as well as his military contacts and capabilities to monitor Cáceres over the years, information leaked to company executives. He coordinated, planned and raised the funds to pay for the assassination of the internationally renowned leader, carried out by seven convicts in December 2018.
Castillo’s penalty is significantly lower than that of the other seven inmates, who were sentenced to imprisonment of between 30 and 50 years, due to recent changes to the penal code.
Outside the courthouse, supporters rallied around a spiritual offering and urged the authorities to continue the investigation until those who ordered, paid, facilitated and benefited from the murder are exposed and brought to justice.
“David Castillo is just one link in the chain of command that ordered the assassination of Chief Copinh,” the group said. “The struggle of the Lenca people for justice will not end”.
During last year’s 49-day trial
Desa’s chief financial officer Daniel Atala Midence was ordered to testify about his role in managing operations with Castillo, including approving payments to whistleblowers used to monitor Cáceres.
But Atala Midence received a last-minute apology after prosecutors announced he was being investigated for murder. No further information was released, but during Castillo’s conviction, the court ordered the documents to be kept secret as investigations are still open.
Atala Midence’s father and two uncles, the Atala Zablah brothers, who are part of one of the most powerful economic and political families in the country, are the majority shareholders of the parent company. There are no indications from prosecutors that they were involved in the assassination.
The project of the Gualcarque river, considered sacred by the Lenca people, was sanctioned even if it did not respect national and international environmental and community requirements.
Castillo also faces fraud allegations in a separate dam clearance process that is expected to begin in July. Desa board member Jacobo Atala Zablah will testify.