Honduran authorities have charged five suspects with the murder of environmental activist Berta Cáceres.
Cáceres, one of the Central American nation’s best-known activists, was found shot dead in her home in La Esperanza in March.
The 45-year-old, who campaigned for indigenous and environmental causes, had long been subject to repeated threats and harassment.
She was part of a group leading a campaign against Agua Zarca, one of the nation’s biggest hydropower projects.
The five men, including two brothers, were charged with her murder Friday.
In a statement, the Honduran Public Ministry said an investigation had yielded “technical and scientific evidence” that had led to their arrests.
It did not provide specifics on what kind of evidence was found, but said one of the suspects had the gun used in the killing. He had been charged with illegal possession of firearms, authorities said.
Link to hydropower project
One of the suspects is linked to the company DESA, which owns and operates the Agua Zarca hydropower project.
The suspect was “manager for social and environmental matters for the company,” according to a statement by Agua Zarca.
The company said it was “under no circumstances responsible or has (a) material and intellectual link” with her killing.
The United States ambassador to Honduras, James Nealon, welcomed news of the arrests.
“From the very beginning, we have called for a thorough investigation into Cáceres’ murder – one that followed the evidence and that would lead to those who committed the crime,” he said in a statement on the embassy website.
Family demands action
Cáceres’ family has been demanding an investigation by an independent international panel into her killing.
Her daugher, Olivia Zúñiga Cáceres, said the arrests were just the beginning of a long road to prosecution.
“Real justice is to punish the intellectual authors behind this,” she told CNN en Español.
“Who planned this, who designed this, who financed the murder – the assassination of Berta Cáceres. Those who ultimately ordered her death should also be punished with all weight of the law.”
Cáceres’ nephew, Silvio Carrillo, told CNN in an email that the family would continue to push for an independent investigation.
“As we have stated since the assassination, the Honduran government lacks the veracity and political will to conduct a just, thorough and professional investigation,” Carrillo said.
Cáceres’ family is not alone on their call for an independent investigation. A group of United States congressmen and congresswomen have reached out to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to ensure the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is involved in the investigation.
Cáceres’ family is campaigning to get 1 million signatures to pressure government authorities to stop mining and hydroelectric projects in indigenous communities throughout Honduras.