The trial of the former president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, which will begin on Monday in a New York court, has been postponed until February 20, one of his lawyers confirmed this Saturday.
The postponement of the trial is due to the fact that “the government (prosecutor’s office) has confirmed that it will not be able to deliver the classified information redaction” that they were supposed to deliver to the defense the previous day, lawyer Raymond Colon confirmed to AFP.
Hernández, who has so far maintained his innocence, will be tried alone in Manhattan’s southern federal court after two co-defendants, former Honduran police chief Juan Carlos “Tigre” Bonilla and former police officer Mauricio Hernández, requested it in recent days. trafficking.
Extradited to New York in April 2022, the 55-year-old former president is accused of participating in and protecting a network that shipped more than 500 tons of cocaine to the United States between 2004 and 2022.
In return, he would have received “millions of dollars” from drug cartels, including Mexican drug lord Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán, who was sentenced to life in prison in the United States.
Drug money helped him improve himself and “finance his political campaign and commit electoral fraud” in the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections, the indictment said.
If found guilty of the three charges brought against him by the prosecution—drug smuggling, trafficking, and possession of weapons—he could be sentenced to life in prison and 30 years, like his brother Tony Hernández and his partner Geovanny Fuentes, who joined the same network.
His wife, Ana García, who considers the arrest of the former president “political persecution,” reacted this Saturday to
Lawyer Renato Stabile, who joined Hernández’s defense two weeks ago to help incumbent Raymond Colon, who has health problems, asked the judge this week for a new postponement, which is said to be due to a lack of time to study a lot of key material.
He also asked for jury selection through a questionnaire to ensure impartiality. Investigating judge Kevin Castel denied both requests on Thursday.
Of this, there have already been four postponements of the trial, which has created great expectations because it is not common to see a former president (2014–2021) sit on the bench of justice in another country to answer cases to sell drugs.
Last year, former Mexican Homeland Security Secretary Genaro García Luna, the highest-ranking Mexican official to sit on a bench in the United States, was found guilty of drug trafficking, among others, in a New York court. His sentencing is scheduled for March 1.
A faithful collaborator of the Republican government of Donald Trump (2017–2021), JOH, the acronym of his name by which he is known in Honduras, boasts of praising Washington for the work of his government in the seizure of drugs and fighting. against organized crime.
“He stopped people who had nothing to do with him, but he protected others,” a former agent of the DEA, the US anti-drug agency, Mikel Vigil, told AFP.
JOH also has another trial pending in Honduras for fraud and money laundering.
“No one is above the law,” Josette Altmann, general secretary of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) based in Costa Rica, told AFP, who believes this case will be a “reminder for leaders around the world.”geopolitical spectrum” of legal effects, but above all “reputation,” which “requires participation in wrongdoing.
Since 2014, Honduras has extradited 38 people accused of drug trafficking to the United States, in addition to Tony Hernandez and Geovanny Fuentes. Fabio Lobo, son of former president Porfirio Lobo (2010–2014), has been sentenced to 24 years in prison, and former deputy Fredy Renán Nájera is 30 years old.
If found guilty, Hernández will follow other former Latin American leaders convicted in the United States, such as Panamanian Antonio Manuel Noriega in 1992 and Guatemalan Alfonso Portillo in 2014.