December 4, 2013
Lourdes Albir, the widow of Association for a More Just Society (AJS) labor rights lawyer, Dionisio Diaz Garcia, looks longingly at her wedding photo, not able to turn the page of the photo album. Two hitmen murdered Dionisio almost seven years ago, and robbed Lourdes, and her son Mauricio, of a husband and father. Lourdes lifts her gaze from the photo and tries to keep in her tears, but slowly they stream down her cheeks, “You can forgive, but you can’t forget. This changed my whole life. The only thing I want is justice for my husband,” she says, as she wipes away her tears and closes her photo album.
Dionisio Díaz García was murdered on December 4, 2006 as he drove to the Supreme Court to represent a group of security guards who had been unfairly fired. He had spent two years working for AJS defending the rights of vulnerable security guards and cleaning women who often worked 90 hour weeks for 40 hour pay, and did not receive any benefits. This fight for the most vulnerable generated powerful enemies for Dionisio, and after a series of death threats, his commitment for justice cost him his life.
Events on February 27, 2009 brought renewed hope for Lourdes and Mauricio. On that day a panel of three judges found an ex-security guard and an ex-police officer guilty of the murder of Dionisio Diaz Garcia.
But, what began as a sweet victory became bitter three years later when the Supreme Court of Honduras absolved the sentences of Dionisio’s two killers. They were set free immediately.
According to the analysis of lawyers from more than 15 countries, the Supreme Court ruling is full of inconsistencies and contradictions. Most surprisingly, one of the Supreme Court Judges, Jacobo Calix Hernandez, provided legal services for one of the security companies that Dionisio had brought law suits against, and at one point this same security company operated out of his law office. Calix should have removed himself from the case because of his conflict of interest, but he did not do so. In addition to this irregularity, much of the reasoning in the Supreme Court ruling is not legally consistent according to lawyers who analyzed it.
This May, a year after the Supreme Court ruling, AJS fought back by filing an appeal in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for wrongdoing in the case. AJS has documented other irregularities in similar cases in the Supreme Court, so if the state of Honduras is found guilty in this instance, it would not only be a victory for Dionisio’s friends and family, but could also be precedent setting.
In the seven years since Dionisio’s death, AJS has been at Lourdes and Mauricio’s side. Lourdes concludes “In Honduras, two weeks after a crime is committed it is forgotten. ASJ has fought so that this crime is not forgotten and that justice is done. My goal is to do justice for my husband.”