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News > Latin America

Honduran Anti-Corruption Agent Murdered, Not Suicide

  • Police officers stand guard on a street while colleagues help an elderly couple move their belongings in Tegucigalpa, Honduras August 10, 2014.

    Police officers stand guard on a street while colleagues help an elderly couple move their belongings in Tegucigalpa, Honduras August 10, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 July 2018

The Honduran director of forensics says the death of a young anti-corruption agent was murder, while some national media report continues to call it suicide.

The Honduran director of forensic medicine says that the head of the anti-corruption commission in Copan was, indeed, murdered.

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Julissa Villanueva, the Honduran director of forensic medicine told the press again on Monday that the 29-year-old head of an anti-corruption commission within the Criminal Investigation Technical Agency (ATIC) of Copan - Sherill Yubissa Hernandez - was murdered, and did not commit suicide, as was originally stated by investigators.

"The ruling says it is a homicide and not a suicide," Villanueva told reporters on Monday.

"I’m sorry that there are those who want to discredit the scientific forensic evidence," the medical expert said.

Villanueva and four other members of her team have received death threats for presenting the evidence that shows that Hernandez was murdered.

"Evidently (the threats) are related to this case,” said the doctor. Villanueva says she’s considering leaving the country if her life continues to be at risk. The "threats have been fully documented," she told reporters on Monday.

The body of Hernandez was found dead by bullet wounds in her Copan apartment on June 10, but there were several irregularities regarding the crime scene and the initial investigation.

ATIC agents had denied the national police, the police research department and forensic specialists access to the scene of the crime on June 10. The ATIC agents, with whom Hernandez worked, determined themselves that their colleague’s death was a suicide. They cited the fact that there was no forced entry and that neighbors didn't immediately report the killing as reasons to determine the incident as a suicide.

Several corroborating autopsies and help from the U.S. FBI helped to determine that the young anti-corruption official was killed by gunfire to the head. No suicide note was ever found.  

"She was a cheerful, optimistic, fierce … person. It never would have crossed (Hernandez’s) mind to take her life," a college friend told national media.

Since the body of Hernandez was found investigators and public authorities have publicly argued back and forth about how she died. On Monday some national media outlets in Honduras reported that the attorney general's office has concluded her death a suicide, while others report that the same state agency want to bring Hernandez's death to justice, treating it as a homicide.

Sherrill had been named the head of ATIC’s anti-corruption unit of Copan, a new position she was very happy about says her family, just two weeks before her death.

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