TEGUCIGALPA. – Twelve of 15 Supreme Court Justices definitively upheld a dismissal ruling made by a presiding judge in favor of the military high command that participated in the 2009 coup d’état and ordered the expulsion of Manuel Zelaya Rosales from the country.
The six ex-members of the Armed Forces High Command are ex-General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez; Deputy Chief for the High Command, General Venancio Cervantes; Army Commander, Miguel Ángel García Padget; Air Force Commander, Luis Javier Prince Suazo; Navy Commander, Juan Pablo Rodríguez, and the Armed Forces Inspector, Carlos Cuéllar García.
The Commanders had been accused by the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) of abuse of authority and placing at risk the security of the State by expatriating the former President.
On June 28, 2009 Zelaya was expatriated to neighboring Costa Rica. He then left for Nicaragua and on September 22 appeared in Honduras taking refuge in the Embassy of Brazil where he remained until January 27, 2010 when he was granted safe conduct to the Dominican Republic.
The charges against these members of the military were originally dismissed by the president of the Supreme Court, Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés, who was acting as presiding judge at the time. The Public Prosecutor’s Office, however, was not satisfied with the ruling and filed an appeal, which was then ruled inadmissible. The public prosecutors filed a subsequent appeal to the Constitutional Court, and due to irregularities in addressing that appeal, the Supreme Court was required to make a decision, in which 12 were in favour and three against.
Those charged will be definitely absolved since the appeal process resulted in a firm decision in favor of the six ex-commanders of the Armed Forces. The hearing was presided over by Justice Tomás Arita Valle who on June 28, 2009, signed a search warrant for the home of the ex-president. Having exhausted all legal recourse within the country with the decision of the 12 justices, the injured party (“Mel” Zelaya) may pursue international legal venues.
La Tribuna, October 20, 2011