Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Its Not Over Till Its Over

Yesterday the appeals panel of the Honduran Supreme Court voted 2-1 to nullify the remaining charges against José Manuel Zelaya Rosales for procedural irregularities. The panel of three magistrates, Rosa de Lourdes Paz Haslam, Marco Vinicio Zúniga Medrano, Gustavo Enrique Bustillo Palma made their verdict public shortly after noon yesterday in Tegucigalpa.

La Tribuna reported that the vote was 2 for nullification of the charges with one abstention. El Heraldo reported that Rosa Lourdes Paz Haslam and Gustavo Enrique Bustillo Palma voted to nullify the charges and that Justice Marco Vinicio Zúniga Medrano voted against the appeal.

The court based its decision on articles 16, 61, 82, 90, 102, 303 and 304 of the Constitution, article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 8 of the American Convention on Human Rights, and articles 4, 101, 165 y 166 (numbers 3, 5, 6 y 7, 139), 167 (number 1), of the Penal Code and articles 1 and 137 of the Law of the Organization and Attributes of the Court.

The decision
"reformed the order dated 25 March 2011 [of judge Chinchilla] in relation to nullification, and because of the particular and unique status of the involuntary absence of Mr. Zelaya Rosales, declares the partial nullification of the proceedings exclusive to José Manuel Zelaya Rosales accused, from and including the present admission requirements and tax issues 0801-2009-31126 0801-2009-31042 dated July 30, 2009 and February 24, 2010, respectively, promoted against Mr. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, on charges of falsification of public documents to the detriment of the public trust, and fraud against the government and all acts that have been made to posterity, with the exception of the measures mitigating the appointment of a public defense of the accused, the decision to bring this case to the special procedure for processing a high government official, the motion to bring nullify these actions, the processing of the appeal and the proceedings brought against the co-defendants in related charges."
All of that to affirm the hearing procedures and overturn the decision of appeals judge Chinchilla and grant the defense motion to nullify the two remaining charges against Zelaya Rosales. The court made it clear that the nullification only applied to the charges against Zelaya Rosales, not his co-defendant, Enrique Flores Lanza.

The Public Prosecutor, Luis Rubí, has 60 days to appeal the decision of the three judge panel. He can appeal because the decision was not unanimous. If he appeals, the case is taken to the entire 15 justices of the Supreme Court, who will then analyze and vote on the case.

So all of this will probably be sufficient to get Honduras re-admitted to the OAS, but as yet is insufficient for Manuel Zelaya Rosales to return to Honduras. Its a legal ruse to give Lobo Sosa daylight to negotiate Honduras's return to the OAS while still keeping the charges open. Already Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the OAS, says this is sufficient to negotiate Honduras's return.

Until the appeals period expires the case is not over.

We fully expect the Public Prosecutor's office will appeal this court's decision. Henry Salgado, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor as much as said so this morning. The question is, will Luis Rubí stick it to Lobo Sosa and file the appeal before the OAS meetings in June, or will he wait until after the meeting to file his appeal?

Reset your countdown clocks for 60 days.

UPDATE: 11:11 AM PDT - La Tribuna is reporting that the Public Prosecutor's office will file an appeal in the next few hours. Luis Rubí, despite his lack of prosecutorial success in these politically motivated corruption cases, is sticking it to Lobo Sosa with respect to readmission to the OAS.

UPDATE 11:00 PM PDT - The appeal is filed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

According to the US, it's over before it's over.

This State Department never fails to underwhelm me.