TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — The United States requested the arrest and extradition of former President Juan Orlando Hernández on drug and weapons fees lower than three weeks after he left workplace, a transfer that follows years of accusations in regards to the Honduran chief’s alleged hyperlinks to drug traffickers.
Honduran safety forces surrounded Hernández’s neighborhood Monday evening and on Tuesday the Supreme Court of Justice met to select a decide to deal with the extradition request.
Honduran Security Minister Ramón Sabillón, who was fired by Hernández as head of the National Police in 2014, stated Tuesday that Hernández had conspired “with cartels to traffic (drugs) and corrupt many public institutions, which led to social deterioration and undermined the application of justice in Honduras.”
He stated the primary fees Hernández faces within the U.S. had been drug trafficking, utilizing weapons for drug trafficking and conspiracy to use weapons in drug trafficking.
U.S. prosecutors in New York had repeatedly implicated Hernández as a co-conspirator throughout his brother’s 2019 drug trafficking trial, alleging that his political rise was fueled by drug income.
His brother, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández was sentenced to life in jail on drug and weapons fees in March 2021. At his sentencing Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Laroche characterised the crimes as “state-sponsored drug trafficking.”
Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, declined remark late Monday in regards to the U.S. extradition request.
In a video launched by Hernández’s authorized workforce, apparently from inside his dwelling, legal professional Félix Ávila stated that no arrest order had but been issued.
Hernández launched an audio recording by way of Twitter early Tuesday thanking his supporters. “It is not an easy moment,” he stated. “I don’t desire it for anyone.”
He stated his legal professionals had knowledgeable the National Police that “I am ready and prepared to cooperate and go voluntarily … to face this situation and defend myself” if an arrest order is issued.
The id of the decide chosen to deal with the case was not instantly launched. However, the court’s president, Rolando Argueta, is understood to be shut to Hernández, and all 15 Supreme Court justices had been chosen by Congress in 2016 throughout Hernández’s first presidential time period. They serve seven-year phrases, and most come from his National Party.
The U.S. strikes had been a long-awaited fall for a pacesetter reviled in his dwelling nation who loved assist from the Trump administration however had been saved at arm’s size by the Biden White House, which has focused Central America’s endemic corruption as a root reason behind migration.
Last 12 months, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy was one in all a dozen senators who supported a invoice that sought to isolate Hernández by imposing sanctions on him and prohibiting the export of tear gasoline, pepper spray and rubber bullets that Honduran safety forces deployed in recent times in opposition to protesters.
“Throughout the past eight years of decay, depravity, and impunity, successive U.S. administrations sullied our reputation by treating Hernandez as a friend and partner,” Leahy stated in a press release Tuesday. “By making excuse after excuse for a government that had no legitimacy and that functioned as a criminal enterprise, U.S. officials lost sight of what we stand for and that our real partners are the Honduran people.”
Dana Frank, a Honduras skilled and professor of historical past emerita on the University of California, Santa Cruz, stated the U.S. needs to look heroic for lastly attempting to carry Hernández to justice, however that successive administrations going again to President Barack Obama enabled Hernández.
“Hernández was able to wreak havoc with Honduras, with devastating costs, in large part because the U.S. supported him up to the last minute,” Frank stated.
Honduran prison lawyer Marlon Duarte stated that the extradition course of in opposition to Hernández, if it strikes forward, wouldn’t final greater than three months.
Once an arrest order is issued, Hernández would have to flip himself in or be forcibly taken into custody, he stated. At an preliminary listening to, Hernández would learn of the costs and he could be held on a army base.
Within two months, one other listening to could be held by which the U.S. proof could be offered and the decide would decide on whether or not he ought to be extradited.
If the decide guidelines for extradition, Hernández would have three days to attraction. Then the appellate court – additionally named by the Supreme Court – would resolve inside 5 days whether or not to verify the extradition or overturn the decide’s choice. If the decide denies extradition, the U.S. authorities would have a possibility to attraction.
Hernández left workplace Jan. 27 with the swearing in of President Xiomara Castro. The identical day, he was sworn in as Honduras’ consultant to the Central American Parliament.
One of his legal professionals, Hermes Ramírez, instructed native media his consumer had immunity as a member of the regional parliament and stated authorities forces weren’t following correct procedures. He stated Hernández was inside the house.
Various contingents of the National Police, together with particular forces in addition to army police, had been current round Hernández’s neighborhood Monday evening. Barriers at the entire entrances saved out media and even residents.
Members of the safety forces entered the world with weapons, carrying balaclavas and with handcuffs dangling from their ballistic vests.
Hernández typically pointed to the truth that Honduras started permitting the extradition of its residents on drug trafficking fees whereas he was president of the Congress as a part of his protection.
But U.S. prosecutors have alleged that he was taking bribes from drug traffickers on the promise of defending them as soon as he was president.
Hernández took workplace on Jan. 27, 2014. He used a pleasant Supreme Court to overcome Honduras’ constitutional ban on reelection and gained a second time period in 2017 in elections marred by irregularities.
Around midnight Monday, 56-year-old Jorge Arturo Vega, a supporter of latest president Castro’s Liberty and Refoundation social gathering, stood outdoors a police barricade at Hernández’s neighborhood celebrating.
“This is a party we’ve been waiting a long time for,” Vega stated, pondering again over the dozen years since Hernández got here up in Congress. “We couldn’t stand this drug trafficker, criminal, killer in the presidential house any longer.”
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