A Honduran court handed down jail terms of up to five decades for seven men convicted of the 2016 murder of indigenous activist Berta Caceres, who led a battle against a major dam on the ancestral lands of her Lenca tribe.
Five of those accused of the murder were sentenced to 50 years in jail and another two to a term of 30 years on Monday. The men were not named.
Honduran law gives the men 20 days to appeal the sentences.
Caceres, shot to death at her home in the town of La Espernanza, was a veteran land rights activist who started out in the early 1990s, setting her sights on illegal logging.
Since 2006, she had organised opposition to the $50-million Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam, where building came to a halt after completing as much as a fifth of the project.
Lenca activists criticized the dam on the Gualcarque River for what they said would probably cause major disruptions to their water and food supply and faulted the project for a lack of required indigenous consultations.
The sentences came nearly a year after the seven men were convicted, were harshly criticised by Caceres’ daughter Olivia Zuniga, who said they sidestepped the true culprits.
“This is a day of pain because the intellectual authors of my mother’s murder are still enjoying impunity,” Zuniga said. “We are not going to believe that there’s true justice until these people are in jail.”
Honduras is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental and land rights activists. At least 24 environmental and land defenders have been killed since March 2015.
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