A leading human rights lawyer who represented several Honduran agrarian groups in disputes with large landowners was killed by gunmen on Sunday, a land rights organization said.

Antonio Trejo Cabrera, 41, was shot five times while attending a wedding in the capital, Tegucigalpa, the Peasant Movement of the Valley of Bajo Aguan said in a statement.

Trejo was a lawyer for three peasant cooperatives in the Bajo Aguan, a fertile farming area plagued by violent conflicts between agrarian organizations and land owners. More than 60 people have been killed in such disputes over the past two years. The lawyer had recently helped farmers gain legal rights to several plantations.

Trejo had also helped prepare motions declaring unconstitutional a proposal to build three privately run cities with their own police, laws and tax systems.

Just hours before his murder, Trejo had participated in a televised debate in which he accused congressional leaders of using the private city projects to raise campaign funds.

The lawyer was to travel to Washington in October to participate in hearings on the Bajo Aguan situation at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said Annie Bird, co-director of Rights Action.

Trejo "had denounced those responsible for his future death on many occasions," said Vitalino Alvarez, a spokesman for Bajo Aguan's peasants. "Since they couldn't beat him in the courts, they killed him."

No arrests have been made in Trejo's killing.

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