Report on the Cause of Berta Cáceres.
2 August 2020 (AQUI en español)
David Castillo, the link to the intellectual authors of Berta Cáceres’ assassination, was captured on March 2, 2018. His pretrial detention expires on September 2, 2020, after two and a half years in which the Honduran justice system has not carried out the corresponding trial.
This delay is due to the dilatory actions developed by Castillo’s defense as part of a strategy to delay the judicial process and take advantage of this time to influence decisions that allow impunity. This with the permissiveness of the authorities of the judiciary. The actions of Castillo’s defense seek to end preventative detention and release him.
The Court of Appeals denied Castillo’s recent appeal.
Recently the Court of Appeals denied the last appeal filed by Castillo’s defense to delay the judicial process. The appeal with which Castillo and his associates seek to eliminate the evidence that proves his guilt and his involvement as a murderer and member of the criminal structure that murdered Berta Cáceres has been denied.
Dilatory maneuvers on the part of Castillo’s defense
The delaying maneuvers in this process started from the very beginning, after the initial hearing an appeal was pending without processing in the court of letters for about 7 months. The victims and the Lenca people are concerned that from the beginning the judge of the case allowed the delaying action.
The preliminary hearing is the moment before the oral and public trial stage, which was supposed to take place in April 2019. However, on that date, Castillo’s defense team, Juan Sánchez Cantillano and Ritza Antúnez, violated the proper conduct of the hearing by wanting to present an expert opinion at an improper time, for which the Public Prosecutor’s Office filed an appeal that meant a five-month delay in the process. The appeal was resolved in favor of the correct development of the hearing against Castillo’s defense.
The hearing was rescheduled for September 25, 2019, but Castillo’s defense was not present, so it was postponed until October 10, when it was again suspended due to the irregular filing of an appeal by the defense. All the time it has been delayed, it has been used to make campaigns and interventions in allied media, with the objective of victimizing Castillo and lying about the evidence against him.
The delaying tactics have delayed the preliminary hearing by one year and four months.
The time lost as a result of the delaying tactics should not be an obstacle to the proper conduct of the proceedings, nor should it affect the victims’ right to access to the truth.
Trial yes, but with guarantees!
With less than a month to go before the end of the pretrial detention period, and with a panorama of corruption and structural impunity exacerbated by the COVID health crisis, it is worrisome that through these delaying tactics Castillo’s freedom will be allowed without him paying for his crimes.
In addition, there is the threat, due to the loss of time, of a hasty trial that does not guarantee justice, truth and reparation. And that, because of the health crisis, there will not be any observation either, allowing more irregularities and ensuring the impunity for Castillo, the link between those who executed the crime and those who paid for it.
The evidence against David Castillo is clear and conclusive, demonstrating not only his guilt but also the guilt of his bosses and associates in the Atala family. Reason for all the attacks on the judicial process.
COPINH demands that the judicial process for the murder of comrade Berta Cáceres against one of the intellectual authors complies with all the guarantees for obtaining justice, truth, reparation and non-repetition. No delaying tactics should be allowed which seek impunity.