Crime & Justice

Honduran ex-president could be handed over to US this week

Tegucigalpa, Apr 6 (EFE).- Honduran former President Juan Orlando Hernandez could be extradited to the United States this week to face drug trafficking charges after Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling against a last-ditch motion brought by his attorneys.

The Constitutional Chamber deemed inadmissible the defense lawyers’ application for an injunction to block the extradition, court spokesman Melvin Duarte told reporters.

The full 15-member Supreme Court had previously ratified the extradition on March 28.

Duarte said that the Constitutional Chamber declined to consider the defense motion because it pertained to questions of “simple legality” with no constitutional implications.

Hernandez, 53, was arrested at the request of the US on Feb. 14, three weeks after the end of his second four-year term as president of the Central American nation.

His brother, Tony Hernandez, was sentenced in March 2021 in the US to life in prison after being convicted of smuggling nearly 204 tons of cocaine into the country over the course of 15 years.

The court heard testimony that Tony funneled millions of dollars in bribes to then- President Hernandez, who denied the accusations of drug links and denounced his brother’s sentence as “outrageous.”

Federal prosecutors in New York charged Juan Hernandez with conspiracy to import controlled substances into the US and with two other counts pertaining to the use of automatic weapons and US-registered aircraft in furtherance of the smuggling operation.

Over the course of roughly 15 years, the Hernandez brothers trafficked more than 500,000 kgs (1.1 million lbs) of cocaine, according to the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa.

In an open letter to the Honduran people, Hernandez proclaimed himself the innocent “victim of vengeance and conspiracy.” EFE gr-ac/dr

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