The following press release was distributed to media in Honduras on 8 August 2018.
COPINH Cannot Demand ‘Scalps’ Based on False Information, says DESA Lawyer Robert Amsterdam
In comments made during a press conference organized by the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH) and the family of Berta Cáceres on 7 August 2018, attorney Víctor Fernández made numerous false claims and accusations which displayed a reckless disregard for both the judicial process and the facts, said Robert Amsterdam, international attorney acting on behalf of Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA).
These comments, says Amsterdam, directly threaten the defendants’ rights to presumption of innocence and rights to fair trial, and appear to be an attempt by COPINH to “weaponize the judicial process to score political goals more than actually seek truth and justice for the victim of this terrible crime.”
“Mr. Fernández’s vague claims of ‘hidden evidence’ and vast conspiracies are totally contradicted by the known facts – including the fact that prosecutors have ignored court orders demanding that they share the investigative file with Sergio Rodríguez and others – and have failed to do so to date, which is hugely detrimental to the defense,” says Amsterdam.
Amsterdam points out that his legal team of international experts are carefully examining the facts in this case, and have already found that in many cases COPINH has made numerous false and unsubstantiated claims to attack their opponents. Much of Mr. Fernandez’s accusations and demands to expand the investigation rest on the conclusions of the GAIPE report, which doesn’t stand up to serious independent scrutiny, says Amsterdam.
Last month, Amsterdam’s team released the Greenspan Report, authored by Canada’s most famous criminal law expert, which found that the GAIPE report authors committed crucial procedural mistakes and exhibited a clear pattern of bias.
“At this point, no serious state institution or international observer can take COPINH at their word without independent verification of the facts, as it appears they are committed to applying immense public pressure to influence the process,” said Amsterdam. “Every day, as more facts come to light in our investigation of this case, we are directly engaging with a wide range of institutions, from the United Nations, the OAS, to the foreign observers of the respective embassies to share our findings.”
“The fairness of this judicial process is crucial – and it must be based on truth, not politics,” said Amsterdam. “And as this truth comes to light in the coming weeks, it is my hope that both the news media and international observers can exercise better judgment before giving any credibility to COPINH’s politicized claims.”