Juan Orlando Hernández is wanted in the United States on charges of drug trafficking and firearms, which he has denied.
The highest court in Honduras endorsed the extradition of former President Juan Orlando Hernández to the United States, where he is Dear on charges of drug trafficking and firearms.
The Honduran Supreme Court of Justice on Monday rejected an appeal by Hernández, 53, following a judge’s decision on March 16. decision accept an extradition request from the United States, judicial spokesman Melvin Duarte said.
Hernández, who held the position from 2014 to 2022 and has denied all charges against him, he could face life in prison if convicted.
On Monday, Félix Ávila, one of Hernández’s lawyers, said that “this is a decision of the Supreme Court and the fact that we do not agree with it does not mean that it is illegal.”
US authorities accused Hernández, who was arrested in Honduras in mid-February following an extradition request from the New York Southern District Court, of participating in a drug trafficking scheme.
They say that Hernández, who was replaced by the country’s first female president, xiomara castroin late January, it facilitated the smuggling of some 500 tons of drugs – mainly from Colombia and Venezuela – into the US through Honduras since 2004.
US prosecutors have alleged that he received millions of dollars from drug traffickers for his protection, including Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
He faces three charges: conspiracy to import a controlled substance into the United States; use or carry firearms, including machine guns; and conspiracy to use or carry firearms.
On the first charge, the 15 justices of the Supreme Court voted unanimously in favor of extradition. For the two charges related to firearms, the vote was 13 in favor and two against.
Most of the accusations against Hernández arose in two trials in New York: those of Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, the president’s brother and himself a former Honduran congressman, and Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez.
The crux of the prosecutors’ accusations is that Hernández used bribes and support from drug traffickers to fuel his political rise from congressman representing rural Lempira in western Honduras to president of the National Congress and then to two consecutive presidential terms.
In exchange, the traffickers were supposedly allowed to operate unimpeded, received information that helped them avoid the authorities, and sometimes even had security forces at their service.
Hernández has been in custody since mid-February when he was arrested after a dramatic surveillance that saw him hiding in his house surrounded by police. He walked out hours later, promising to cooperate with authorities.
In a letter published Monday, Hernandez maintained his innocence and said he is a “victim of revenge and conspiracy.”
Hernandez claims that the drug traffickers he helped extradite to the US have tried to get back at him by implicating him in the trade. “Three life sentences could make me the living dead,” said Hernandez, who admitted it was “painful” to be separated from his loved ones.
His wife Ana García, a lawyer, joined a group of a dozen protesters outside the courthouse in Tegucigalpa to proclaim his innocence.
“If a citizen is tried, he must be tried in our country,” García said.