Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

Honduras military chiefs face trial over Zelaya removal

General Romeo Vasquez (with medals) and other military chiefs appear at the Supreme Court on 14 January
Military chiefs insist the charges against them are baseless actions

Top military chiefs in Honduras have been ordered not to leave the country as they face trial over the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya last June.

The head of the Supreme Court told the six commanders also to appear in court on 21 January when proceedings begin.

Prosecutors have charged them with abuse of power in connection with Mr Zelaya's removal and forced exile.

He was at odds with Congress, the military and the courts over his plans to look at rewriting the constitution.

Mr Zelaya returned to Honduras in secret last September and remains holed up in Brazil's embassy.

Members of the military high command, including armed forces chief of staff General Romeo Vasquez, appeared at the Supreme Court on Thursday to hear the charges against them.

The court's president, Jorge Rivera, ordered that they must stay in the country and report periodically to the court authorities.

They must also be present to testify when the initial proceedings begin next week.

Earlier this month, prosecutors charged the six men with abuse of power for sending Mr Zelaya out of the country. Under the Honduran constitution, it is illegal to forcibly remove Honduran citizens from the country.

"We will concentrate on showing the facts and they want to face this process to prove the charges are baseless," defence lawyer Juan Carlos Sanchez told the Associated Press.


President-elect Porfirio Lobo, who is due to take office on 27 January, has said he supports granting an amnesty relating to last year's events to both Mr Zelaya and those involved in his removal.

Mr Zelaya has dismissed the charges against the military chiefs as a cover to obscure the truth of what happened on 28 June.

The reasons for and manner of Mr Zelaya's ousting have been bitterly disputed.

The Supreme Court ruled that his plans to look at changing the constitution were in themselves a violation of the constitution and ordered his arrest, while Congress voted to remove him from office.

However, instead of being detained and charged in Honduras, Mr Zelaya was seized by soldiers at his home and driven to the airport. There he was put on a flight to Costa Rica.

The interim government and the military insisted his removal was a constitutional transfer of power. Many regional countries, the UN, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union condemned the situation as a coup and demanded Mr Zelaya's immediate reinstatement.

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People's Daily Online Congress grants amnesty to Honduran interim leader, others involved in coup - 27 hrs ago
Al Jazeera Honduras to try 'coup generals' - 50 hrs ago
Irish Times Honduran officers on trial over coup - 50 hrs ago
Reuters UK Honduran officers to stand trial related to coup - 53 hrs ago
Washington Post Honduran judge charges top military chiefs in coup - 53 hrs ago

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