A highly controversial corruption case involving a number of legislators will see serious delays in the judicial process, following a ruling from the Honduran Supreme Judicial Court.
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The spokesman for the judiciary, Melvin Duarte, explained Wednesday that as there has been no action filed against the defendants, the case will be put on hold and transferred over to the Superior Court of Accounts (TSC).
“No indictment or dismissal has been issued, nor has a formal prosecution order, the analysis that was presented by the natural judge in this case, establishes the need that there may be a condition of prejudiciality prior to continuing with the support of the criminal case by the Public Ministry and by the Attorney General of the Republic,” Duarte said.
Authorities from the Special Prosecutor Unit Against the Impunity of Corruption of the Public Prosecutor's Office (UFECIC) took action in December after discovering a network of low-ranking government officials deliberately misappropriating funds set aside for social programs for their own illicit business deals.
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Spokesman Juan Jimenez Mayor, representative of the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Maccih) the organization behind the legal proceedings, denounced the change. Transferring the case into the hands of the TSC will only add further delays, allowing the extension of the time allotted for investigations to increase to three years.
Per a recent Congressional reform of the Organic Budget Law, that if during an investigation or special audit, the suspicion arises of possible misappropriation of public funds by federal employees, no legal action can be taken until the administrative channel, the TSC, has been completely exhausted.
Those allegedly implicated in the case are parliamentarians Augusto Cruz Asensio, Hector Padilla, Audelia Rodriguez, Dennys Sanchez and Eleazar Juarez, who have been accused of embezzling some US$340,000.