Friday, September 20, 2013

ALERT: COPINH member, Berta Caceres sentenced to prison to await trial

As of 11am Friday Sep 20th, Judge Reyes Lissien Knight Lisseth ordered Berta be sent to prison while she awaits trial.  Berta must present herself, or an arrest warrant will be issued. Please read below for details.
It is imperative we keep raising our voices!

Look at "take action" pages to the right to support Berta Caceres who puts her freedom and life on the line everyday, to defend others.
To read Berta's declaration, please look at  "Berta's Declaration" to the right

The judge's resolution of last week's initial hearing against Berta Caceres, Tomas Gomez, and Aureliano Molina for the charges of coercion, usurpation, and damages of over $3 million, was issued today and includes the following:

- That the charges against Berta, Tomas, and Aureliano by hydroelectric dam company DESA and the Honduran state have merit and the case will proceed to trial.  It is notable that the judge resolved basically everything exactly as DESA and the Fiscal (goverment prosecutors) asked for.  Given that there was no real evidence presented nor logic to the charges, it could not be more clear that the justice system is completely serving the economic interests of corporations.

The judge dictated prison for Berta Caceres and alternative measures to imprisonment for Tomas and Aureliano while the case proceeds to trial.  For Tomas and Aureliano, the alternative measures include having to present themselves to sign in every 15 days, a prohibition to going to the supposed "scene of the crime," and their lawyer is responsible for them and has to give reports to ensure they will be present for the trial.  Part of the legal rationale for dictating prison for Berta is that she already has alternative measures to imprisonment for the fabricated gun charges when she was detained by 15-20 soldiers waiting for her on an isolated road en route to Rio Blanco on May 24th.  Those charges were dismissed by a judge for lack of evidence but then re-instated in a totally sketchy situation by an Appeals court, in part perhaps to contribute to this outcome, as that case has not advanced recently.

- Berta can present herself to go to jail or if she doesn't, an arrest warrant will be issued for her and she will presumably then be captured and taken to jail.  She was not at the courthouse today (nor did she need to be as today was for the lawyers to pick up the resolution of last week's initial hearing) so is not yet in jail at the moment, but all things indicate that she will be very, very soon and could be for quite a long time as the case drags out.

- The judge ordered an eviction of the action in Rio Blanco.  However, something important to note about this is that according to the lawyers, this eviction can't be carried out until the resolution is "firm," which can't happen until their appeal is resolved.  So technically, the police and military can't use this resolution as an eviction order right now, or if they do so, that is illegal.  This is important because the police occupation of Rio Blanco continues to intensify.  They are trying to build a police station and the police routinely now search people as they come into town on the bus.  The military is also still there.

- The police were armed with riot gear, including shields, helmits, batons, guns, etc, both outside and even inside the courthouse today.  There was a peaceful protest outside with people from many different Honduran social movement organizations demanding an end to the criminalization of COPINH and the struggle in Rio Blanco.

- Before today's resolution was even officially issued, there were reliable indications that the company (DESA) already knew the outcome of it, indicating just how partialized the case and the judicial system is.  

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