The Honduran National Anticorruption Council (CNA) and state prosecutor’s office are denouncing an appellate court that ruled to allow a former first lady to be tried within civilian courts rather than as a former state official within an anti-corruption court, likely lessening her final charges.
A state appellate court ruled that Sosa should be tried as a civilian, rather than as a civil servant.
The decision was made even though the CNA and state prosecutors provided the three appellate judges with ample evidence that Rosa Elena de Lobo, wife of ex-president Porfirio Lobo Sosa, funneled over US$680,000 in state funds to her personal bank accounts, including nearly US$127,000 that went to a Honduran-based drug cartel - Los Cachiros - all during Lobo's presidency.
The CNA announced it is fighting this ruling saying that she's a former state official who should be tried as such in a national anti-corruption court, rather than in a regular civilian court, which could lessen the gravity of the case and her final sentencing. The council says this move reinforces Honduras's exorbitant rate of corruption and impunity.
"These are resolutions of impunity that benefit the ex-first lady," says Odir Fernandez, CNA director.
Sosa has been under pre-trial detention at the National Female Penitentiary for Social Adaptation in Tamara, Honduras since February when she was taken in for the alleged embezzlement.
The CNA says a second Honduran anti-corruption commission - Special Auditor Against Impunity and Corruption (Ufecic) - provided evidence to the court that indeed showed that, "people received checks with no legal justification whatsoever from the office of the First Lady (Sosa)," including a check in the amount of US$127,000 directed to Los Cachiros, a family of Honduran cattle ranchers turned part-time drug smugglers in the 1990s.
The CNA says that Sosa acted as a crime ring leader from within the Honduran Oval Office, approving the checks be written and sent by others within the Lobo administration.
In a statement, the CNA says the appellate court is failing to take into account that Sosa earned over US$3,300.00 in state money each month, and acted against "state patrimony." The anti-corruption council added that the court’s three judges were "lazy, feeble, and creating impunity," dismissing not only their’s and the state prosecutor's evidence, but ignoring the Inter American Convention Against Corruption, to which Honduras is a signatory.
"With this tactical behavior from the judges, the (Sosa) case can’t be heard within the anticorruption circuit owing to the charges being requalified as common crimes, not organized (crimes)," says the CNA.