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Honduras prosecutors charge military officials for Zelaya ouster

[JURIST] Honduran prosecutors on Wednesday filed charges against three military chiefs in connection with the ouster of former president Manuel Zelaya [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] in June. The attorney general's office filed abuse of power charges [El Heraldo report, in Spanish] in the Honduran Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] against armed forces commander Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, air force commander Venancio Cervantes, and naval commander Luis Javier Prince. According to the charges, the three violated the Honduran Constitution [text, in Spanish] when they seized Zelaya and put him on a plane to Costa Rica because the constitution prohibits the forcible removal of a citizen. Zelaya has dismissed the charges as a political move [AFP report], claiming the prosecutors share as much responsibility as the military. The court has three days to decide whether to take up the case.

Zelaya remains in Honduras at the Brazilian embassy. Last month, the Honduran National Congress [official website, in Spanish] voted 111-14 not to reinstate [JURIST report] him. This followed a non-binding advisory opinion from the Supreme Court that Zelaya could not legally return to office [JURIST report]. Zelaya's return to power appears unlikely, as elections were held in November, and Porfirio Lobo is due to be sworn in as president later this month. Zelaya was ousted [JURIST report] in June, following a judicial order [press release, in Spanish] asserting that he had broken Honduran law by attempting to conduct a controversial referendum on constitutional reform [JURIST report], contrary to a Supreme Court ruling. Zelaya, along with the US, the UN, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the European Union, maintain that his removal was a coup, while the interim government of Roberto Micheletti asserts that it was a lawful transition of power.

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