Latin America & Caribbean

Berta Caceres: Honduras executive held over dam activist's murder

A man holds a poster during a protest demanding justice in the murder of Berta Caceres Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Berta Caceres was shot dead at her home in March 2016

Police in Honduras have arrested an energy company executive on suspicion of masterminding the murder of a renowned environmental activist.

Berta Caceres was shot dead inside her home exactly two years ago, on the night of 2 March 2016.

She had led protests against a dam project.

The arrested man, Roberto David Castillo, is executive president of Desa, the firm that was building the dam. Desa has insisted he is innocent.

The company blamed "international pressure and smear campaigns of various NGOs [non-governmental organisations]" for the development.

Mr Castillo is reportedly a former military intelligence officer.

Image copyright AFP PHOTO / ATIC
Image caption Roberto Castillo was arrested at an airport in Honduras

Eight other people have already been tried over the killing, including members of the armed forces and other Desa staff.

Ms Caceres' family have long maintained she was murdered for economic reasons.

They say she suffered months of threats from police, politicians and construction companies.

In November 2017, a 92-page report by international experts concluded that energy company executives and state agents had conspired to kill the activist.

The murder raised outrage internationally, with Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio tweeting that Ms Caceres' work should be honoured.

She is remembered for peacefully defending the rights of Honduran indigenous communities and in 2015 won the Goldman Prize, one of the most prestigious awards for environmentalism.

The judges said she had "rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world's largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam".

The dam would have flooded large areas of land and cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of Lenca people.

News of Mr Castillo's arrest broke amid protests demanding justice for Ms Caceres, who was a mother of four.

She is one of over 100 land activists murdered in Honduras in the last decade.

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