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Honduras approves law that allows for the shooting down of suspected drug planes

TEGUCIGALPA — Honduras’ Congress has passed a law authorizing the air force to shoot down unidentified planes suspected of carrying drugs over the Central American country, legislators said.

The legislature voted overwhelmingly Friday night to pass the “air space protection law” even though Honduras is a signatory of an international treaty that forbids downing of civilian aircraft, congressional vice president Marvin Ponce told AFP.

Ponce said the law authorizes planes to be shot down if they fail to file flight plans or abide by civil aviation rules.

“If an unidentified or unauthorized aircraft is detected, it will be subjected to the progressive use of force, through investigation, interception, pursuit and in its maximum use the definitive neutralization of threat, which will be ordered by the secretary of defense,” the law states.

The United States reportedly suspended sharing of radar intelligence with Honduras after the Honduran air force shot down a suspected drug plane in June 2012.

Central America is major transit point for drugs moving north to the US market on small aircraft and boats, according to US officials.

Defense Minister Marlon Pascua, in an interview with the newspaper La Tribuna, said Honduras has cut the movement of drugs through its territory by 74 percent since mid-2010.

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