University union leaders arrested, charged with sedition

Posted on March 25, 2010

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Police guard the court building

Police guard the court building

During a court hearing with the Criminal Justice Section of Tegucigalpa, judge Melvin Bonilla issued precautionary measures against 10 of the 16 members of the Workers Union of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (Sitraunah), accused by the prosecution of sedition, coercion, and usurpation.

Bonilla also issued house arrests against 5 people for being over 60 years old, and another worker because he has diabetes. The judge who bears the burden of proof is Alina Aguilera, but she could not conduct the hearing this day and Judge Melvin Bonilla. acted in her place.

A team of lawyers with the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (Cofadeh) came in person to the seat of the court located in La Granja, Comayagüela, but they were prevented from entering by the security guards and police.

Cofadeh believes that the judge’s actions violates the process of presumption of innocence. The defense said there is no risk of flight by the accused so preventative detention was unnecessary.

Moreover, the union defendants argued that there is no risk of obstruction of justice by their clients, so the decision to give them provisional measures of preventive detention is due more to a kind of bias towards the workers union for being a part of the National Front of the Popular Resistance.

Despite the restrictions on information, it is known that the 10 union members will be deprived of their freedom and will remain imprisoned at the National Penitentiary, located in Tamara, Francisco Morazán, about 15 kilometers from the capital, until the time and date of next hearing.

The court building remained guarded by a strong contingent of riot police stationed in front, sides and back of the court building, while more than a hundred members of the National Resistance Front demanded outside the immediate release of the union workers.

The conflict between the union workers and authorities of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) had not been resolved for three weeks, since there was no agreement on a number of wage increase demands presented by SITRAUNAH. They had proceeded to take the university campus buildings to protest the stalemate in negotiations.

Around 4:00 pm the riot police (over one hundred) fired tear gas and struck protestants with batons as a show once again of repression against the National Front for Popular Resistance.

The unionists’ lawyers requested a new hearing to review the precautionary measures, based on Articles 80 and 82 of the Constitution of the Republic, and 173 numerals 5,6 and 7 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

SOURCE: Defensores en línea

RELATED: Auto de prisión contra miembros del Sitraunah, and Lawyers denounce before the IACHR that amnesty only applies to some, SITRAUNAH Amenaza con Huelga Nacional