Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Lawyer: Former Honduran president held ‘prisoner of war’

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández is being held “a prisoner of war” in a federal prison in New York, his lawyer told a judge on Tuesday.

Attorney Raymond Colon made this claim because Hernandez pleaded not guilty to charges that he received millions of dollars from 2004 to 2022 to support a drug trade that distributed hundreds of thousands of kilos of drugs to the US.

Colon said Hernandez has been held in solitary confinement and has not been allowed to communicate with his family or gain access to the prison’s commissionerate since he was extradited three weeks ago to face charges. He said that Hernandez is sometimes allowed to exercise on the basketball court for an hour, but he is not given a basketball.

The lawyer also complained that he was mostly barred from meeting Hernandez, although his paralegals were allowed to meet him.

US District Judge P. Kevin Castell directed the government to look into the issues and report them within a week. Castel also set a possible trial date for January 17.

“Obviously, he is treated like a prisoner of war, not like every other prisoner,” Colon said.

The lawyer said Hernandez has been isolated in a part of the prison and is treated as if he were a terrorist terrorist or a violent prisoner under special prison rules.

“He’s not a terrorist,” Colon said. “There is no violence in their history.”

Castell said he can’t think of a reason why Hernandez would be denied family phone calls, access to prison commissary and other privileges prisoners enjoy, though he asked prosecutors to submit an explanation under the seal. If there was a secret reason that could not be disclosed publicly.

Otherwise, the judge said, “let’s see if we can get a quick report and corrective measures as appropriate.”

“My client is so grateful,” Colon said as an eyewitness said, Hernandez excitedly nodding his head next to him.

A message to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for comment was not immediately returned.

Hernandez served as the President of the Central American nation from 2014 to 2022. He faces charges including conspiracy to participate in drug trafficking, possession of machine guns and destructive equipment, and conspiracy to possess machine guns and destructive equipment.

Hernandez was arrested from his home in Tegucigalpa in February at the request of US officials. The Supreme Court of Honduras rejected his appeal for a judge’s decision in favor of extradition.


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