Honduras ex-President Hernandez makes first US court appearance | Courts News

Juan Orlando Hernandez faces drug trafficking and weapons fees after being extradited to america this week.

Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has made his first look in US courtroom after being extradited to the nation to face drug trafficking and weapons fees.

Hernandez, 53, appeared by way of video hyperlink in federal courtroom in New York on Friday. He was not required to enter a plea, and his attorneys didn’t request bail for him however mentioned they might accomplish that at a later date, the AFP information company reported.

A US choose set a Could 10 arraignment listening to for Hernandez, the place he will probably be formally requested whether or not he pleads responsible or not.

Hernandez was extradited on Thursday afternoon from the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, on a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) aircraft certain for the US.

That very same day, US federal authorities unsealed an indictment towards the previous president, accusing him of collaborating in a “corrupt and violent drug-trafficking conspiracy to facilitate the importation of a whole bunch of 1000’s of kilograms of cocaine into america”.

He’s accused of getting facilitated the smuggling of some 500 tonnes of cocaine – primarily from Colombia and Venezuela – to the US by way of Honduras since 2004, beginning lengthy earlier than his presidency.

In flip, he acquired “tens of millions of {dollars} in bribes … from a number of narcotrafficking organizations in Honduras, Mexico and different locations”, US prosecutors allege, together with roughly $1m from Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

However the ex-president, who served two phrases between 2014 and January 2022, has maintained that he’s harmless. He misplaced his immunity from prosecution when he handed energy over to Honduras’s first feminine president, Xiomara Castro, in January.

A ruling by the Honduran Supreme Court docket in late March cleared the way for Hernandez to be extradited to face fees in a New York courtroom.

The US Justice Division mentioned in an announcement on Thursday that Hernandez – as soon as seen as a key US ally within the warfare on medicine – “was allegedly paid tens of millions of {dollars} in cocaine proceeds which he used to complement himself, finance his political campaigns, and commit voter fraud whereas the folks of Honduras endured situations of poverty and rampant violence”.

The US indictment charged Hernandez with three counts of drug and weapons offences that might land him many years in jail if convicted.

Damian Williams, the US legal professional for the Southern District of New York, mentioned throughout a information convention on Thursday night that Hernandez was concerned in “rampant corruption and big cocaine trafficking” that spurred violence in Honduras.

“Honduras grew to become probably the most violent international locations on this planet throughout the defendant’s presidency, and whereas Hernandez amassed cash and political affect, the folks of Honduras endured situations of poverty and violence,” he mentioned.

Hernandez has denied the allegations. In a video message launched Thursday, he mentioned: “I’m harmless; I’ve been and I’m being unjustly subjected to prosecution.”

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