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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Honduras Accuses Military Leader in Deaths During 2017 Protests

A Honduran colonel was accused this Tuesday of killing five protesters during the protests against the reelection of former president Juan Orlando Hernández in 2017, now imprisoned for drug trafficking in the United States, the military reported.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office (prosecutor’s office) presented in a court “a fiscal requirement (accusation) with a request (…) for an arrest warrant against Colonel Víctor Alonso Ponce Martínez for allegedly being responsible for the commission of five homicide crimes”, the Armed Forces announced in a statement.

The homicides occurred “during the post-electoral protests that took place in 2017,” he argued.

He added that the military institution will place the aforementioned officer at the disposal of the judge, to whom he will provide “legal technical services” for his defense because it is “obliged” in acts committed “in the line of duty.”

Thousands of supporters of an opposition alliance headed by the leftist Libertad y Refundación (Libre) party, now in power, blocked streets with stones and burning tires for more than a month on different highways and streets in Honduras to protest Hernandez’s reelection.

More than 30 protesters died due to repression by state security forces, according to human rights organizations.

Hernández sought reelection despite a constitutional prohibition. His candidacy was admitted thanks to a legislative interpretation made by members of the Constitutional Chamber that he himself had imposed due to the control he maintained over Congress.

During the vote count, the candidate of the opposition alliance had a lead of close to five points with almost 60% of the votes, when the computing system failed for hours.

When it was restored, Hernández was winning by less than two points and ended up winning the election, which unleashed the wrath of opposition movements.

The day Hernández handed power over to current President Xiomara Castro, the United States requested his extradition.

He was extradited to New York in April 2022, where the 55-year-old former president is accused of participating in and protecting a network that sent more than 500 tons of cocaine to the United States between 2004 and 2022.

The start of the trial is scheduled for next week and he risks being sentenced to life in prison as happened with his brother, Juan Antonio.

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