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Honduran judge grants U.S. request to extradite former president

Honduran judge grants U.S. request to extradite former president
An Honduras judge late Wednesday accepted the request to extradite former President Juan Orlando Hernandez to the United States. Photo by Gustavo Amador/EPA-EFE

March 17 (UPI) -- A judge in Honduras late Wednesday approved the extradition of former President Juan Orlando Hernandez to the United States where prosecutors have accused him of being involved in a narco-trafficking conspiracy.

The Central American nation's Supreme Court of Justice said in a statement that an unnamed judge granted the extradition of the former president "after evaluating the means of evidence presented" by the Court of the Southern District of New York.

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Hernandez has three days to file an appeal, the court said.

Until he is extradited, Hernandez will remain detained by the Honduran authorities where he has resided since turning himself over to police on Feb. 15. at the request of the United States.

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The former president has been accused by U.S. prosecutors of being involved in narco-trafficking scheme, specifically accepting brides from individuals seeking protection from law enforcement to smuggle drugs into the United States.

The Honduras Supreme Court of Justice said he faces a charge of conspiracy to import a controlled substance into the United States and two firearms related charges .

The announcement of the extradition follows U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealing last month that Hernandez had quietly been added to a list of dozens of former Central American officials barred from entering the United States over accusations of committing corruption.

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At the time, Blinken said there were credible reports that the former president was involved in "significant corruption" and that he used the proceeds from narco-trafficking to fund his political campaigns.

The U.S. prosecutors also convicted Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernandez" in 2019 on trafficking charges in a case that listed his brother, the former president, as a co-conspirator. He was sentenced in March of last year to life in prison.

Hernandez was president of Honduras from 2014 to January when President Xiomara Castro was inaugurated.

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