International team of lawyers says plot existed to kill Honduran activist Berta Caceres

An international team of lawyers said Tuesday that the 2016 killing of Honduran environmental activist Bertha Caceres was the product of a coordinated plot and suggested involvement by the leadership of a dam development company.

A report by the International Advisory Group of Experts, or GAIPE for its initials in Spanish, said the group had identified “possible intellectual authors” of the slaying beyond the eight individuals already charged and concluded the killing was “not an isolated incident.”

Caceres, who was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for leading her Lenca indigenous people in opposing a hydroelectric project, was slain March 3, 2016, by gunmen who forced their way into her home in the middle of the night. Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican activist, was wounded.

GAIPE, made up of five lawyers from the United States, Colombia and Guatemala, formed last year to conduct an outside review at the request of Caceres' family and her activist group, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, who feared authorities would not bring to justice those behind her killing. Its findings do not carry the weight of law.

The report was based on dozens of interviews, criminal case files, independent reports and what the group described as partial access to evidence provided by government investigators, including “a fraction of” the phone records that are at the core of the case.

Spokesman Yuri Mora-Carias of Honduras' Public Ministry, which is in charge of prosecutions, said the eight people under arrest are considered the material authors of Caceres' killing and the weapon used in the killing has been recovered, but the investigation remains open.

The dam development company referenced by the lawyers group has repeatedly denied involvement in Caceres’ slaying.

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