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The long list of accusations against the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) reached a turning point on Friday when the Attorney General’s Office and DESA corporation demanded a jail sentence for the organization’s coordinator Berta Cáceres and alternative measures for two other members of the organization.
The final ruling on Berta’s freedom will be known on Friday September 20th.
COPINH believes that the two-day hearing clearly showed that the judiciary serves the corporation’s interests, whose aim is to build a dam on Rio Blanco.
A press release by COPINH says that racism and contempt for the Lenca people were in evidence in a statement full of lies, contradictions and ridicule. It was also clear the Lenca people were subjected to the state’s aggression and abuse”.
The Attorney General also requested the prosecution of Aureliano Molina and Tomas Gomez, through the imposition of alternative measures that would prevent them from attending the “place of the incidents”, it would force them to appear in court every 15 days and that a defense lawyer should be responsible for the actions of both COPINH members.
The case was filed in May, when Berta and Tomas were arrested by military officers on their way to Rio Blanco, where they were heading to express solidarity with the community roadblock being held against the building of the Aguazarca Project. Police officers pointed a gun at their vehicle and criminal accusations were subsequently filed against them. Now the constructor and the entity in charge of the energy supply are accusing COPINH of usurpation and they claim the organization is responsible for millionaire losses.
“The Lenca people do not need lawyers”, said the lawyer of COPINH members, Victor Fernandez to hundreds of residents of different communities and members of dozens of organizations that gathered outside the court in Intibuca.
The testimony, recorded by Girogio Tucci of Adital news website, says that trying to criminalize the members of COPINH for “inducing” the Lenca people of Rio Blanco to resist the dam is a lack of respect for the community’s self-determination, based on racial discrimination against the indigenous culture.
“We have denied that the Lenca people are usurpers, in any case the usurpers are the ones coming from abroad to take advantage of their resources”, said Victor Fernandez.
He also stated that active solidarity with COPINH and the community under threat, both within and outside Honduras, has helped block the works.
On Friday 20th, there will be a new international call against Berta Caceres’s jail sentence.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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