A judge in the United States sentenced Tony Hernández, a brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, to life in prison for 30+ years for drug trafficking crimes.

Judge Kevin Castel delivered his sentence in a New York court a year and a half after the trial, which caught the attention of the media, because prosecutors repeatedly mentioned the president during that process, accusing him of accepting bribes from traffickers. of drugs.

The accusations against the Honduran president have been a headache for the government of the Central American country since then: they have continued over the months in court documents and were repeated in another recent trial against an alleged drug trafficker named Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez.

President Hernández and the Honduran Presidential House have used Twitter to deny the allegations time and again and held a press conference last week.

The president assures that the accusations are lies by drug traffickers and murderers who want to reduce their sentences. Hernández faces no charges, but has been branded a “co-conspirator” in his brother’s case.

After hearing his sentence, Tony Hernández, dressed in a dark blue prison uniform, looked pale. He touched his hands on the table and kept his gaze down.

“Offender! Just like your brother! ”A member of the audience yelled as Hernández left the room.

Before giving his sentence, Judge Castel described Tony Hernández as someone who could have followed a good path as a lawyer and a congressman. However, the judge said, he dedicated himself to trafficking drugs with others and accepting bribes.

“This is, in fact, state-sponsored drug trafficking,” the judge said.

Before sentencing, Hernández complained about his lawyer, telling the judge that he was not paying attention to him and that they hardly met in person to discuss his case.

“It was from the news that I found out that my sentence was this day,” he said.

For now, the administration of US President Joe Biden has limited itself to saying from Washington that any accusation of criminal activity is considered very serious, but has not said much more about the case.

A State Department spokesman who is not authorized to give his name due to internal policies told the AP that the United States works with the Honduran government, civil society and the private sector to create a better future for the Honduran people.

The prosecutors’ accusations, however, have had consequences.

A group of senators recently introduced a bill that seeks to isolate President Hernández. The bill asks Biden to impose sanctions against Hernández and determine if he is a “specially designated narcotics trafficker,” which would mean that his assets could be frozen and he would be barred from entering the United States.

According to prosecutors, Hernández received several payments from drug traffickers in exchange for guaranteeing them the protection of the Honduran government. The money, prosecutors say, was used to finance election campaigns and buy votes from National Party politicians to help the president and others.

A former drug trafficker who testified at Tony Hernández’s trial claimed that the president received a payment of one million dollars from Mexican drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. The alleged payment was made in 2013 through Tony Hernández, they said. That year Hernández was a candidate for the presidency.

Peter Brill, Tony Hernández’s lawyer, said last week that the United States’ accusations against his client for drug trafficking are a clear attempt to implicate the president and intervene in Honduras to change the government of the Central American country.

Brill said that by arresting and indicting the president’s brother in a clear attempt to implicate the president, the United States attempted to violate “the sovereignty” of Honduras.

“This case is another in a long line of foreign policy intervention misadventures carried out by the US government, this time to change a regime at the highest levels in Honduras,” Brill wrote.

Prosecutors in the case requested a life sentence for Tony Hernández for running “a criminal drug trafficking association sponsored by the State” together with President Hernández. They also want Tony Hernández to return $ 138.5 million in “blood money” from his drug trafficking operations, and pay an additional $10 million fine.

Some 80 people stood in front of the court Tuesday with banners and megaphones, singing and protesting against Tony Hernández and the president.

“And it’s going to fall!” They often sang in reference to the president. “That narco is going to fall.”

One of the banners read: “Extradition Juan Orlando Hernández.”

Hernandez did not express any remorse and used all of his time to complain about his attorney Peter Brill. He insisted that he tried to talk to Brill many times about prosecutors’ misconduct that Hernández believed would serve to prove his innocence.

“I feel cheated,” Hernandez said. “I feel that my rights have been violated.”

Judge Castel told Hernández after sentencing that he hoped he would be able to reflect in jail.

“Perhaps you can still do some good for your family and your country,” he said.

Categorized in: