Honduras ex-President Hernandez pleads not guilty in US court | Courts News


Former president’s lawyer says Hernandez, who’s going through drug costs, is being handled like a ‘prisoner of warfare’.

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has pleaded not responsible to drug costs in the US, along with his lawyer complaining that he’s being held like a “prisoner of warfare” in a New York federal jail.

Hernandez, 53, appeared in US federal courtroom on Tuesday with chains round his ankles and spoke by means of a Spanish interpreter saying he was not responsible.

He was extradited to the US final month and charged with taking part in a “corrupt and violent drug-trafficking conspiracy to facilitate the importation of a whole lot of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into the US”.

The ex-president, who served two phrases between 2014 and January 2022, has maintained that he’s harmless. He misplaced his immunity from prosecution when he handed energy over to Honduras’s first feminine president, Xiomara Castro, in January.

Defence lawyer Raymond Colon mentioned on Tuesday that Hernandez was held in solitary confinement and had not been allowed to name his household.

“Clearly, he’s been handled like a prisoner of warfare, not like each different inmate,” Colon mentioned.

US District Decide P Kevin Castel ordered the federal government to look into the situations of Hernandez’s detention and report back to him inside per week. The decide additionally set a preliminary trial date for January 17.

The US indictment had charged Hernandez with three counts of drug and weapons offences that would land him a long time in jail if convicted.

Damian Williams, the US legal professional for the Southern District of New York, mentioned throughout a information convention on Thursday night that Hernandez was concerned in “rampant corruption and large cocaine trafficking” that spurred violence in Honduras.

“Honduras turned one of the vital violent nations on the earth in the course of the defendant’s presidency, and whereas Hernandez amassed cash and political affect, the folks of Honduras endured situations of poverty and violence,” he mentioned.

Hernandez has beforehand denied the allegations. In a video message launched earlier than his extradition, he mentioned, “I’m harmless; I’ve been and I’m being unjustly subjected to prosecution.”

His brother, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez was sentenced to life in jail within the US in March 2021 for “a lifetime of drug trafficking”, the trial decide mentioned. In that trial, prosecutors mentioned Juan Antonio distributed drug-related bribes to his brother, then the sitting president of Honduras.

The US additionally extradited former Honduran police chief Juan Carlos Bonilla on Tuesday to face drug-related costs, the AFP and Reuters information businesses reported.

In April, US authorities accused Bonilla of abusing “his positions in Honduran regulation enforcement to flout the regulation and play a key function in a violent worldwide drug trafficking conspiracy”.

However, like Hernandez, Bonilla has denied the accusations. “I am going with the presence of the Almighty, my head held excessive, a transparent conscience that I owe nothing to the US,” Bonilla wrote in a letter revealed in native media final week.

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