A judge of the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras has approved this Wednesday the extradition to the United States of former President Juan Orlando Hernández, where he is accused of being linked to drug trafficking and of introducing thousands of kilos of cocaine into that country during the period in which he was President of Honduras (2014-2022). “The extradition judge of first instance, after having heard the evidence presented by the defense team and all the documentation sent by the requesting State, considers that it is appropriate to declare the extradition,” confirmed the spokesman for the judicial body, Melvin Duarte, after an unusually long hearing, which lasted more than 11 hours.
The former president was arrested on February 15, after the Joe Biden government requested the extradition of the former president, who left office in January. Washington had also withdrawn his US visa and included him on the list of “corrupt and undemocratic actors.” Hernández’s defense now has three days to appeal before the plenary session of the Supreme Court of Justice, something that they will do according to what his lawyers have advanced.
Hernández, who held power in 2018 under strong protests that took place in the main cities of the country, is heavily accused by a New York prosecutor, who points out that he received bribes from drug traffickers in 2013 to finance his first presidential campaign. In the accusations, it is stated that Hernández has given protection to “narcos” leaders and they have even published an alleged quote from the president in which he affirms that he wanted to “put the drug in the noses of the gringos, flooding the United States with cocaine.” .
Last March, Judge Kevin Castel, of the federal court in Manhattan, sentenced Juan Antonio to life imprisonment, plus another thirty years in prison. Tony Hernández, brother of the former president. In October 2019, a popular jury in New York found Tony Hernández guilty of four charges brought by the US Department of Justice related to drug trafficking, including sending tons of cocaine to US territory.
The former president’s first hearing before a judge appointed by the Supreme Court took place on February 16 at the Supreme Court’s headquarters and under strict security. In this way, Hernández has become the first former president of Honduras to be demanded by the United States justice system. The president governed the Central American country in a controversial and authoritarian manner for eight years, the last four under a controversial re-election in November 2017, even when the Constitution did not allow it. Hernández managed to get the Electoral Tribunal to approve his candidacy in December 2016 to participate in the elections. The former president forged a strong control of the institutions, mainly in key bodies such as the Constitutional Chamber, which in April 2015 declared inapplicable to him the stone article of the Honduran Magna Carta that prohibits presidential re-election. These are the same re-election ambitions that cost former President Manuel Zelaya his job in Honduras, expelled by a coup in 2009.
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The former first lady of Honduras and wife of Hernández, Ana García, said on Monday that he is the victim of an orchestrated revenge by Honduran drug traffickers “who were extradited” (between 2014 and 2021), of whom “the majority turned themselves in and they negotiated there in the United States” to get their sentences reduced. “They have begun to tell a series of lies and a series of falsehoods that I am sure they will not be able to prove here in our country, because their testimonies are not truthful, nor do they have the evidence, nor the support,” García stressed. indicate that her husband is innocent.
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