The former Honduran president appears at the first extradition hearing on US drug charges

Handcuffed and handcuffed, former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez arrived at his first hearing on Wednesday, where he was met by dozens of raucous fans as well as critics who emboldened those who assailed what they described as a drug dictatorship.

Hernandez ruled the Central American country for eight years until last month and now faces a US extradition request issued Tuesday that seeks to force him to face drug-trafficking charges in US courts.

“You are not alone! There is a great political party supporting you,” a supporter of Hernandez’s right-wing National Party told local channel TSI.

A fight broke out between supporters and detractors in front of the Justice Department as Hernandez’s hearing took place, including shoving and shoving as well as some stone-throwing, but the police quickly dismissed them.

Judiciary spokesman Melvin Duarte said the judge overseeing the extradition case had set a date for a hearing on March 16.

The judge ordered that Hernandez be kept in custody until then at a police special forces base.

Police arrested Hernandez, 53, on Tuesday, in a scene broadcast live on local television, after the former president and former Washington ally vowed to cooperate.

A US embassy document seen by Reuters claimed that Hernandez was part of an operation to move massive amounts of cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela through Honduras to the United States. The document also alleges that he took bribes worth millions of dollars in exchange for providing protection to traffickers.

Hernandez has denied wrongdoing and has previously sought to discredit prosecutors’ evidence while also highlighting his past support from US officials.

Last year, a US judge sentenced Hernandez’s brother to life in prison plus 30 years in a major cocaine smuggling case.

“Yes we did! Yes we did! They are taking away the corrupt drug dictator,” said a member of the left-wing Lieber party of new president Xiomara Castro, whose name is only mentioned as Manuel.


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