Another suspect arrested in killing of Honduran activist

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduran authorities announced Thursday that they have arrested a sixth suspect in the March killing of environmental activist Berta Caceres.

Ricardo Castro, head of the Central American country’s criminal investigation unit, identified the suspect as 21-year-old Elvin Heriberto Rapalo Orellana, also known as “El Comanche.” He alleged that Orellana shot and wounded a Mexican activist who survived the attack.

Castro said that Orellana was the last of the suspects sought for allegedly carrying out the killing, but that investigators are still working to determine who ordered the attack.

The other arrested suspects include an active duty army officer and at least one man who worked for a hydroelectric project opposed by Caceres.

The public prosecutor’s office has said three suspects arrested in May worked for or were direct employees of Desarrollos Energeticos SA, also known as DESA, which was developing the dam project that Caceres’ organization successfully stopped.

Hidroelectrica Agua Zarca Co., which is managed by DESA, said that only one of the men was employed by the firm and denied it had anything to do with Caceres’ killing.

Caceres, who had been awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work, was shot to death March 3 by gunmen who invaded her home. She had reported that she was the target of death threats from security personnel for DESA.

Caceres led the defense of the Gualcarque River in western Honduras, which is considered sacred by the Lenca people. The campaign she led successfully fought to halt the proposed Agua Zarca dam.

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