Four get 50-year terms in Honduras for activist murder

Tegucigalpa (AFP) –


A court in Honduras on Monday sentenced four men to 50 years in prison for the 2016 murder of high-profile environmental activist Berta Caceres -- a slaying that sparked international outrage.

Three other men were handed 30-year sentences for their roles in the crime, which highlighted the risks taken by activists in crime-plagued Honduras.

Caceres, a coordinator for indigenous organizations in Honduras, was assassinated in March 2016 by gunmen who entered her house in the community of La Esperanza. She was 45 at the time. A Mexican activist, Gustavo Castro, was wounded in the attack.

The four primary defendants -- Henry Hernandez, Elvin Rapalo, Edilson Duarte and Oscar Torres -- were sentenced to 34 years each for the killing of Caceres, and another 16 years each for the attempted murder of Castro.

Caceres opposed plans by the company Desarrollos Energeticos (DESA) to build a hydroelectric dam across the Gualcarque River, on which indigenous communities depended.

A former army major and two officials from DESA were handed the 30-year jail terms after being convicted last year of paying the four gunmen $4,000 to kill Caceres over her activism.

DESA president David Castillo also is in prison over the killing.

Defense attorneys have a 20-day period to lodge sentencing appeal bids.

The United States and the European Union had demanded that Caceres' killers be brought to justice.