Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The case against the coup being legal under Honduran law

A Honduran contact sends along a statement from a group of Honduran citizens who have filed a complaint with the public prosecutor against the Armed Forces and Congressional representatives who took part in the events of Sunday, June 28. Those who drafted the statement ask for our help in "breaking the media siege to which [they] are subjected". The original petition is in full legal form, with all the petitioners duly identified, men and women. I translate as much as I can and paraphrase the rest of the substance of their complaint here:
We denounce the abuse of authority, usurpation of functions, terrorism, rebellion, betrayal of the nation, crimes against the form of government and against high functionaries of the Honduran State
[naming those who led the coup d'etat and the congressional process that followed]
who participated in and approved the resolution or decree by means of which the citizen Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales was deprived of his position as Constitutional President of the Republic of Honduras; the legal benefits that were harmed are the existence and security of the state, the internal security of the state of Honduras, liberty and dignity of the people and of the nation; the facts, the evidence, and the basis in law on which the present action is based are described in what follows:
What follows are point by point indictments of the illegality of the events of Sunday.

First, the violent invasion of President Zelaya's residence, the gun battle with his bodyguard, his removal to the air base and forced flight to Costa Rica. On the same day the Supreme Court sent out a press release communicating a sentence by the Juzgado de lo Contencioso Administrativo de Francisco Morazán, which the complaint says does not have the power to decree the detention of any person, so that President Zelaya's detention was by definition illegal. Such detentions must follow the well-defined process in the Penal Code article 417 and following, and must be followed by the delivering of the person arrested to the competent judicial authorities, which did not happen in this case.

Second, the complaint notes that the national Congress, despite the fact that the majority of the representatives are from elsewhere in the country and the normal meeting dates are Tuesday to Thursday, met on Sunday for a reading of a supposed letter of resignation by the President; and the secretary of the legislative branch when asked about the source of this correspondence, never gave a reply; but said that there was no reason to doubt its contents, despite the fact that the supposed author denied it in various media of communication from San Jose in Costa Rica.

Third, in the same meeting of the Congress on Sunday, according to what was transmitted by the communication media and by specific representatives, it was noted that a comission created previously presented a report by means of which was submitted for consideration the disapproval of President Zelaya; which was approved unanimously by the congressional delegates attending, and by this means they decided to substitute for President Zelaya Roberto Michelleti.

Fourth, the same day the flow of electricity was interrupted in the majority of the national territory, the radio stations and television stations mostly interrupted their transmission voluntarily, the media of communication of the presidency were closed under unclear circumstances, and some alternative media were assaulted by military contingents that obliged them to go off the air and that they leave their offices. In the same way, selective and deliberate detention of various people was carried out, among whom can be singled out Patricia Rodas, Minister of External Relations, as were deprived of their liberty the ambassadors of Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

These acts are then demonstrated to violate specific Honduran laws: Article 323 of the Penal Code, Article 328, numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4, for violating the bodily integrity and liberty of the President and forcibly changing the form of government; article 335 number 5, for acts of terror against the security of the state; Article 336 for rebellion against the chain of command and the leadership of the president by the armed forces; Article 333 number 1 for illegal detention of those specified; Article 349 number 2 for abuse of authority in the declaration by Congress of a substitution for the democratically-elected President;
which is an act absolutely contrary to the Constitution of the Republic; in virtue of the fact that power that the Constitution of the Republic grants to the National Congress to disapprove the official conduct of a public functionary, does not imply a right or power to remove him or to fire him.
And, under Article 2 of the Constitution, treason by supplanting popular sovereignty and the usurpation of the duly constituted powers, as is also stated in the Penal Code, article 302.

The petitioners ask that the public prosecutor to bring charges against those named in the complaint.

No comments: