Honduras high court rejects house arrest for ex-president

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, center in chains, is shown to the press at the Police Headquarters in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. Police arrested Hernandez at his home, following a request by the United States government for his extradition on drug trafficking and weapons charges. (AP Photo/Elmer Martinez)
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By MARLON GONZÁLEZ

Associated Press

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) ÔÇö Honduras’ Supreme Court of Justice on Thursday denied the appeal of former President Juan Orlando Hern├índez to be held under house arrest during his extradition process.

Hernández was arrested Feb. 15 at the request of U.S. authorities. He faces charges of drug trafficking, using weapons for drug trafficking and conspiracy to use weapons in drug trafficking.

A judge ruled on Feb. 16 that Hernández be held at a National Police special forces base in the capital pending the outcome of the extradition process.

The judge handling his case denied his attorneys’ request for house arrest last week and scheduled a court session March 16 to hear evidence supporting the U.S. charges.

But his attorneys appealed and Thursday the full Supreme Court of Justice convened and voted 14 to 1 to deny his appeal for home confinement.

Since his arrest, Hern├índez’s wife has pleaded his case to the National Human Rights Commission and before a national commission against torture and cruel treatment. She said his human rights were violated in the way he was publicly exhibited and in the conditions of his confinement. She also held two vigils with his supporters outside the base where he is being held.

U.S. prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have accused Hernández in recent years of funding his political rise with profits from drug traffickers in exchange for protecting their shipments.

Hernández has vehemently denied the accusations. He has said drug traffickers he helped capture and extradite are seeking revenge by making up stories.

Hern├índez’s two-term presidency ended Jan. 27 with the swearing in of President Xiomara Castro. Hern├índez became a representative of Honduras in the Central American Parliament.

Last week, police surrounded Hern├índez’s home a day before his arrest. Once the judge issue an arrest warrant, Hern├índez was taken into custody, shackled at the wrists and ankles and paraded in front of cameras.