• Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019
  • Last Update : 09:52 am

Brother of Honduran president found guilty in US drug trial

  • Published at 11:07 pm October 19th, 2019
Tony Hernandez
Honduran Deputy Tony Hernandez, prepares to speak to the press in Tegucigalpa from the United States on October 25, 2016 AFP

The verdict against Hernandez, 41, on all counts was handed up by a jury in federal court in Manhattan

Honduran politician Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernandez was found guilty of US drug trafficking charges on Friday after a two-week trial that featured dramatic accusations of corruption against his brother, the Central American nation's president.

The verdict against Hernandez, 41, on all counts was handed up by a jury in federal court in Manhattan. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 17 and faces up to life in prison.

"They reached a verdict that was inconsistent with the truth," one of Hernandez's lawyers, Omar Malone, told journalists outside the courthouse. "We plan to appeal on behalf of Mr. Hernandez."

Members of Hernandez's family who attended the trial were swarmed by protesters as they left the courthouse. Some protesters chanted "Fuera JOH," meaning "Out with JOH," referring to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

Tony Hernandez was arrested in Miami in 2018 and charged with drug trafficking and possessing illegal weapons. US prosecutors accused him of helping smuggle almost 200,000kg of cocaine into the United States while enjoying the protection of his brother. President Hernandez has repeatedly denied the allegation.

In a Twitter post, he said that he received news of the verdict with "great sadness." The verdict was "based on testimonies of confessed murderers," referring to former drug traffickers who cooperated with US authorities in the trial.

The two-week trial featured testimony from Honduran drug traffickers who are now in US custody and cooperating with authorities, including, Amilcar Alexander Ardon, a former mayor, and Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, former leader of Honduras' Cachiros gang.

Some of the most explosive testimony was from Ardon, who told jurors that Tony Hernandez promised Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman protection for his shipments in exchange for a $1 million donation to his brother's presidential campaign in 2013.