Friday, 30 November 2018

SOA, School Of Assassins.

        For far too many years the SOA, (School of Americas) America's training centre for blood thirsty dictators, assassins, and psychopathic leaders has been dispatching its graduates around the world. From this hub of despotism has come many of the world's worst dictators, military leaders and coldblooded assassins. Just another export from the "good ol' US of A" another blood splattered product of "The Land of The Free". The list of names that have exited its doors reads like a world listing of the worst of brutal criminals.
       For years the group SOA Watch, has been campaigning to have this brutal anathema to democracy shut down, and to make its purpose known to the public at large.
      In Honduras all eyes are on the outcome of a trial, where some of the products of the SOA, stand accused of being part of a group involved in a brutal assassination. It would be wonderful if they were found guilty, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

        Later today, a Honduran Court is scheduled to deliver the verdict in the case against the first 8 people accused of the murder of visionary Indigenous and social movement leader Berta Caceres and the tentative murder of Mexican environmental and social activist Gustavo Castro. Among the accused are:
       * SOA graduate and former head of security for the DESA hydroelectric dam company Douglas Bustillo, who is accused of planning and coordinating with the group of hitmen who went to Berta’s home to murder her.
        * SOA graduate and Army Major Mariano Diaz Chavez, who is accused of providing logistics for the murder.
        * Henrry Hernández, a former soldier connected to Major Mariano Diaz and Douglas Bustillo, who is alleged to have been the leader of the group of hitmen that went to Berta’s home on March 2, 2016.
           * Elvin Rapalo, Oscar Torres, and Edilson Duarte, who are alleged to have killed Berta, shot Gustavo, and driven the getaway vehicle, respectively.
          * Sergio Rodriguez, a manager for the DESA dam company who is accused of coordinating informants to provide DESA company executives and directors with regular information about Berta and COPINH.
            * Emerson Duarte, the twin brother of the alleged getaway car driver, who seems to be erroneously facing trial because the murder weapon is alleged to have been found in his home. However, no other evidence has been presented to suggest he was involved in the murder and government prosecutors downgraded the charge against him at the last moment. Nevertheless, he has been in jail for two and a half years on murder charges.
           The intellectual authors — those who paid to assassinate Berta — are notably absent from this trial. Roberto David Castillo, President of the DESA company, was arrested earlier this year but his case has been plagued by major delays. No other intelectual authors have been arrested.
          The organization that Berta Caceres co-founded and led, COPINH, is inviting everyone to participate in a Twitterstorm today to continue calling for those who ordered and paid for Berta’s assassination at the highest level to be held accountable. You can join on Twitter by using the hashtags #CapturaALosAutoresIntelectuales (Arrest the Intellectual Authors) and #JusticiaParaBerta (Justice for Berta).
           The trial has been plagued by irregularities and negligence that benefits the criminal structure responsible for the murder. The prosecutors representing Berta’s family were glaringly absent, as the court removed the lawyers representing Berta’s children and mother from their role as private prosecutors the day before the trial began in a highly irregular move (in Honduras and many other countries lawyers representing the victims prosecute the case alongside government prosecutors). Additionally, government prosecutors and members of a US-supported investigative unit that testified during the trial apparently failed to properly carry out certain basic investigative actions, contributing to impunity and enabling the defense lawyers to make arguments on procedural grounds. Also, several Constitutional challenges filed by the victims have yet to be resolved.
         The most moving part of the whole five and half week trial came this Saturday following the closing arguments when Laura Zuniga Cáceres, Berta’s youngest daughter, exercised her right to address the Court before they left to deliberate on the verdict. Fighting back tears, Laura looked directly at the judges and said:
          “Today it’s up to me to speak, something I don’t want to do because no one wants to talk after their mother has been murdered. It’s up to me to speak because this justice system didn’t allow us to participate in this process, it expelled us.
         The private accusation should be here, our lawyers who have accompanied us, who investigated, who formulated a complimentary theory for this case – complimentary. They should be here making the closing arguments, explaining the context in which this murder occurred, which is so important. How she was persecuted, how they even persecuted international accompaniers because this was a DESA policy.
         Our lawyers aren’t here because you threw us out of this process and we are here to speak about that too... From the moment my mom was murdered, we were excluded from the process, and we don’t agree with that either. We don’t agree with being denied the possibility of having an observer present during my mom’s autopsy, of not receiving information. We’ve had to fight for information at every moment, every step of the way. We didn’t do it on a whim, we did it because we are prepared to do everything necessary to get to the truth because we understand that it’s our right, because we understand that it’s the right of the Honduran people, because we want to establish precedents for justice.-----
Read Laura’s full remarks here:
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