Today a criminal court in Honduras issued a guilty verdict against seven individuals accused of involvement in the 2016 murder of activist Berta Cáceres, including one executive of the company Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA), Sergio Ramon Rodríguez Arrellano.
The defense team for Mr. Rodríguez rejects this decision, and will appeal, and intends to seek redress for this wrongful conviction and violation of human rights before numerous international bodies.
“There is no question that this trial was the subject of an overwhelming international pressure campaign based on false claims, and now it has produced its desired result – a politically motivated farce to imprison an innocent man despite a lack of evidence,” said Robert Amsterdam, international counsel to DESA.
In the weeks leading up to the conclusion of the trial, Amsterdam & Partners LLP released a comprehensive 80-page white paper detailing numerous procedural deficiencies which destroyed the defendants’ right to the presumption of innocence and right to a fair trial. The white paper also made public numerous controversial text message transcripts recovered from Cáceres’ phones, contradicting many claims by the private accusers, and highlighting alternative theories of authorship not explored by prosecutors.
“The fact is that this conviction would not have been possible in any normal, rule of law court. It is our intention to issue an independent expert assessment of this trial and ruling to show the world the truth – there is no way that such a conviction would take place on the basis of such a case in any lawful jurisdiction,” said Amsterdam.
He continued: “The prosecution appeared to base its entire case on the fact that DESA monitored movements of Cáceres and her organization on days they went to the project site. This argument is not sufficient grounds to convict, and as the private accusers themselves had full access to the investigatory case file, they also knew full well there existed no other evidence against him.”
In light of the repeated attacks and raids on DESA’s property by Cáceres and COPINH which resulted in costly destruction and damage, of course the company monitored movements, says Amsterdam, but it does not constitute any criminal intent and certainly falls short of standards of evidence. “There is no logical motive for DESA to be involved in this crime – the death of Cáceres was the worst possible outcome for the company, destroying the entire investment, and with it, destroying more than 1,500 jobs for the community,” said Amsterdam.
“I empathize enormously with the victim’s family for their loss, and they deserve justice – but justice will not be served by convicting innocent parties based on lacking evidence just because one powerful group is able to exert its will on the courts,” said Amsterdam.
The White Paper and other documentation are available for download in English and Spanish at https://casocaceres.com. More information about Amsterdam & Partners LLP is available at https://amsterdamandpartners.com.