Honduras ex-president gets new lawyer after DEA 'infiltration' claim

Honduras ex-president gets new lawyer after DEA
# 24 January 2024 02:29 (UTC +04:00)

A U.S. judge on Tuesday appointed a new lawyer to represent Juan Orlando Hernandez and delayed his drug trafficking trial a week after the former Honduran president claimed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sent a rabbi to "infiltrate" his defense team, APA reports.

Jorge Bar-Levy, a Florida resident who told Reuters he was ordained as a rabbi in 2019, said he helped Hernandez find a New York lawyer and get kosher meals in jail.

But Hernandez says Bar-Levy was actually "enlisted" by the DEA, citing a public statement by Bar-Levy.

"That is not a fair trial, judge," Hernandez said in a Jan. 18 court hearing.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel on Tuesday appointed Renato Stabile as an additional lawyer to try the case alongside Raymond Colon, who has been Hernandez's main defense lawyer since his April 2022 extradition but has since said he is in poor health.

Castel also pushed back the trial's start date to Feb. 12 in part due to Stabile's appointment. That came after the judge questioned Colon and Hernandez for an hour outside public earshot during a hearing in federal court in Manhattan.

Hernandez, 55, was a key ally to the United States on immigration and anti-narcotics operations while leading Honduras from 2014-2022. But the Justice Department said he abused his power and ran the Central American country as a "narco-state" and took millions of dollars in bribes from cartels.

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