Former Honduran president says he is ‘victim of revenge’ trial in the United States

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By LatAm Reports Editor

The trial begins on Tuesday after four postponements and generates great expectation, could be sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández reiterated on Monday that he is “innocent” and “victim of revenge,” a day before facing a drug trafficking trial in New York.

“I am innocent, I am the victim of revenge and a conspiracy by organized crime and political enemies,” said the 55-year-old former right-wing governor (2014-2022), in a public letter sent from prison in New York and published on the X network by his wife, Ana Garcia.

After being extradited in April 2022, two months after leaving power, Hernandez is accused of links to a criminal network that sent more than 500 tons of cocaine to the United States between 2004 and 2022 and of protecting its activities.

In return, he reportedly received “millions of dollars” from drug cartels, including that of Mexican drug dealer Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán, sentenced to life in prison in the United States.

But in his letter, Hernandez described as “unfair” the accusations and “full of lies built in a novel way based on the testimony” of “confessed drug traffickers,” who negotiated with the Attorney General’s Office for the Southern District of New York to achieve “the reduction of their sentences.” “The senior U.S. officials who served” between 2010 and 2014, when he was head of Congress, and in the period 2014-2022 when he officiated as president, “they are aware of our fight against organized crime and violence” in Honduras, he argued.

The United States asked Honduras to hand over former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, who faces charges related to drug trafficking. Photo AFP

He recalled that during his efforts anti-narcotics laws, such as extradition, were passed, and said that the plans he undertook were known “at the highest level of the U.S. government, such as being the current president, Joe Biden, former vice president, senior officials of the State Department, ambassadors and officials” of the United States.

Hernandez showed that he rules out negotiating with the Prosecutor’s Office so that the sentence can be reduced, as suggested by his lawyers in Honduras. “I declare that I will fight for this truth to the last consequences,” he said.

Three charges against him by the Prosecutor’s Office, drug trafficking, trafficking and possession of weapons could be sentenced to life for more than 30 years, such as his brother Tony Hernández and his collaborator Geovanny Fuentes, who, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, participated in the same network. The trial begins Tuesday after four postponements and generates great expectation, as it is not usual to see a former president sit on the bench of justice in another country to answer for drug trafficking charges.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Salvador