Murderers of Human Rights Lawyer Receive Sentences
Justice prevails in a Honduran court as the murderers of a human rights lawyer are sentenced for their crimes
TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS - On March 19, 2009, the two gunmen responsible for the murder of lawyer Dionisio Díaz García were sentenced for their crimes to 20 years and six months and 21 years imprisonment, respectively. Dionisio was an advocate for the poor of Honduras through International Justice Mission’s casework alliance partner in the country, Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa (Association for a More Just Society).
In a country where many have ceased believing in justice, these convictions bring renewed hope that a more just society is within reach.
IJM partners with ASJ to ensure that the poor of Honduras are protected by their country’s laws, and Dioniso was a leader in this mission. A dedicated lawyer who led ASJ’s labor-rights project, Dionisio was shot by two assailants on the morning of December 4, 2006, as he was driving to court.
In the months prior to the shooting, Dionisio had been advancing in a court case seeking redress for a dozen former security guards who had suffered employment abuse at the security firm where they worked. In retaliation, the company had launched an all-out campaign of threats and harassment against Dionisio and other ASJ justice workers.
The shooters wore no masks or helmets, which enabled their clear identification and subsequent arrest. They were were arrested by local law enforcement on January 31, 2008, and were convicted for their crimes in a packed courtroom on February 27, 2009. One perpetrator is an employee of one of the companies whose workers Dionisio was defending; the other is a former police officer with ties to the same company. ASJ continues to pursue the prosecution of the intellectual authors of the crime – those who ordered the murder.
The perpetrators are expected to appeal the court’s guilty verdict, while the public prosecutor is likely to appeal the sentences in order to attempt to secure the maximum possible sentence (30 years) for both perpetrators.
Despite the long road ahead both in the appeals process and in ensuring that those who ordered the killing are held responsible for their actions, these sentences are a victory for ASJ and for the memory of Dionioso Diaz Garcia, who gave his life working so that others might know a more just Honduras. In a country where many have ceased believing in justice, these convictions bring renewed hope that a more just society is within reach.
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