Honduras judge approves extradition of former president to US

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Honduras judge approves extradition of former president to US

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Former President Juan Orlando Hernández should be extradited to the United States to face drug-trafficking and weapons charges, a Honduran judge ruled Wednesday.

Honduran authorities detained Mr Hernandez in February, limiting a spectacular fall for one of Central America’s most powerful men.

He is expected to appeal against his extradition decision.

During the court hearing, the judge presented a document sent by the United States Department of Justice through the US Embassy in the capital, Tegucigalpa, which laid out the charges against Mr. Hernandez. His lawyers also presented at least 20 evidences in their defence.

According to the document, Mr Hernandez is accused of participating in a “violent drug-trafficking conspiracy” that has transported 500 tonnes of cocaine from Venezuela and Colombia to the United States via Honduras since 2004.

Officials said they had received bribes worth millions of dollars to facilitate shipments and protect smugglers from prosecution.

The ex-president’s brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, is serving a life sentence in the United States for smuggling cocaine. Another convicted cocaine smuggler who had implicated the former president, Giovanni Fuentes, received the same sentence.

The former leader has denied having links with drug smugglers. Addressing the court during Wednesday’s hearing, he questioned the intention behind the extradition process, according to court spokesman Melvin Duarte.

Mr Hernandez has said that the statements made against him by extradited drug traffickers were those of avengers.

Mr Hernandez led the country for eight years and stepped down at the end of his second term in January. When he was taken into custody last month, he was taken from his house by security officers in his arms and legs, clad in bulletproof vests and shackles.

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Fireworks broke out around Tegucigalpa after he was taken away from his home and around 100 protesters gathered around his residence to celebrate his detention.

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