Antonio Trejo, 41, was one of few attorneys who dared represent peasants locked in battle with wealthy landowners in the fertile Aguan Valley.
Trejo was shot five times Saturday night outside a church where he had attended a wedding, a peasants’ rights organization called MUCA said in a statement.
“This is a really tough blow for us. He was a great man whom they could not defeat in the courts. So they killed him,” MUCA spokesman Victalino Alvarez told AFP at the lawywer’s wake on Sunday.
A series of armed confrontations between peasants and owners of extensive African palm plantations in the Aguan Valley has claimed the lives of more than 80 people since 2010, according to tallies from both sides.
Since August 16 police and army troops have been enforcing a ban on weapons in the region, but the violence has continued with no apparent let up.
While African palm is the coveted cash crop fueling the land disputes, the region also has been used as a transit point by drug traffickers.