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Honduras: Journalist who exposed corruption takes refuge in national human rights office

July 23, 2015

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduran journalist David Romero, who exposed a major government corruption case, took refuge Thursday in the national human rights office after filing an official complaint about plans to murder him.

Some 500 supporters of Romero burst into a courtroom in the capital Thursday to take the reporter to the human rights office, just as he was about to give testimony in a slander lawsuit filed against him by Sonia Gálvez, wife of Assistant Attorney General Rigoberto Cuéllar.

“I’ll be living here, [in] this house of human rights … we’re going to sleep here, we’re going to eat here,” Romero told a press conference after meeting with the head of the national human rights office, Roberto Herrera Cáceres. Herrera said the journalist should “feel welcome in this house.”

Romero works for Globo radio and television, which has been critical of the current administration.

The journalist said he will not return to the courtroom “until they change a dishonorable and contaminated tribunal,” which he accused of following instructions from President Juan Orlando Hernández to send him to jail to be killed.

The Honduran administration initially did not answer questions from AFP about Romero’s accusation.

“They had a hitman ready to kill me at the national penitentiary,” said Romero, who assured that the president is taking revenge on him for having exposed corruption in the country’s social security system. Hernández’s National Party is accused of having accepted approximately $94 million skimmed from the country’s social security system to finance the president’s campaign in 2013. The attorney general’s office has confirmed that some $330 million were pillaged from the institution. Hernández admitted some of that money entered the 2013 election campaign which brought him to power.

Corruption allegations have triggered weekly demonstrations by thousands of people demanding Hernández’s resignation, and the creation of an international commission against impunity to investigate the president and all those involved.

Gálvez accused Romero of slandering her in Globo radio and TV programs. The news outlet has been critical of the government and has sympathized with the left-leaning party led by toppled former President Manuel Zelaya.

 

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