The trial of eight men charged with the murder of Honduran activist Berta Cáceres is right around the corner, but prosecutors may be heading to trial without important evidence. More than two dozen electronic devices seized in related raids as far back as 2016 were never subjected to analysis, according to an official response to Cáceres’s relatives from the Office of the Prosecutor for Crimes Against Life, a document that has not yet been made public.
Cáceres’s daughter Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres does not believe it was an oversight or lack of professionalism. Now serving as the general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the organization her mother co-founded and led at the time of her murder, Zúñiga Cáceres views the revelations about the gaps in evidence as part of a strategy.
“It’s a form of denial, of refusing to determine what is really behind the murder,” she told Truthout.
Berta Cáceres was shot to death on March 2, 2016, in her home in La Esperanza, a town in western Honduras. Her longtime friend and colleague, Mexican activist Gustavo Castro, was wounded during the attack. As a prominent Indigenous and social movement leader, Cáceres had been receiving death threats related to her involvement with the COPINH-affiliated community struggle against the proposed Agua Zarca hydroeletric dam, currently on hold, and against Desarrollos Energéticos, S.A. (DESA), the company behind it.
Security forces carried out the first arrests for Cáceres’s murder in May 2016. The four alleged perpetrators detained at that time included Mariano Díaz, an active-duty Army Major at the time of his arrest, with a background in military intelligence and special forces; Douglas Bustillo, DESA’s head…