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.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Judge Nullifies University Arrests

El Heraldo is reporting in its "Minuto a Minuto" column at 12:02 pm Tegucigalpa time, that Judge Iván Castelar, of Tegucigalpa has invalidated the raid the Policia Nacional conducted on the Teaching University in Tegucigalpa. He ruled that the police "violated the university". The police had reported finding "at least 13 molotov coctails and 7 sticks of dynamite" in the gymnasium where the protesters have been sleeping and arrested more than 120 protesters in this case. The protesters say that the evidence was planted, that it was a police officer that brought the "evidence" into the Unversity in a backpack.

The war of words between the rector of the Autonomous University in Tegucigalpa and the Police continues. The police continue to allege that the lab of the Chemistry and Farmacy departments was used in the manufacture of the molotov cocktails, despite the rector's assurances that the lab burned last year in a serious fire that closed the entire building, which is guarded by a security company not associated with the University, and no student or faculty member has had access since it burned.

I'm dubious that the "devices" in the photographs in El Heraldo and the other newspapers are molotov cocktails. The bottles in the photos are painted black, and in at least one photo there is a can of spray paint. There are no sticks of dynamite, nor detonators, in the photos. There is no reason to spray paint the bottles, and one doesn't need a laboratory or equipment to make a molotov cocktail.

Update: El Heraldo has now posted an article with more information about the decision. To reiterate, the Judge, Iván Castelar, has nullified the detention warrants filed by the prosecutor. He ruled that the police and military "violated the autonomy of the university" and the case failed because they failed to follow proper procedures and include a prosecutor in their investigation. Reading between the lines, it appears that they didn't establish the legal grounds needed to enter university property before going in.

In this case, the prosecutor had accused the 24 protesters of sedition, destruction of property, illegal protests against the security of the state, and robbery following the protests where a bus and fast food restaurant burned. Of those arrested, 13 were released, though the charges have not been dropped. The remaining 11 are still imprisoned in the national penitentiary according to a spokesman.

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