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Honduras truth panel blames rival sides
Truth commission says both Manuel Zelaya and coup leaders who removed him from presidency in 2009 acted illegally.
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2011 11:04

Manuel Zelaya, ousted president, has said "impunity continues to favour those who carried out coup d'etat" [Reuters]

Both Honduras' ousted leader Manuel Zelaya and the coup leaders, who forcefully deposed him in 2009, broke the law, according to a truth commission report.

The report, compiled by a six member commission before which Zelaya refused to testify, was presented in Honduras on Thursday.

Among its findings, the commission says that the removal of Zelaya was, in fact, an illegal coup and not a constitutional succession, as argued by some of his opposition.

The president was rousted out of bed at gunpoint by soldiers on June 28, 2009, and still in his pajamas, forced onto a flight to Costa Rica.

He defied court orders not to hold a referendum asking Hondurans if the country should establish an assembly to rewrite the constitution, an illegal "point of no return" in the Honduran political crisis, according to the report.

The commission also said the coup plotters violated the law by allowing Honduran police and soldiers to kill 20 people during protests in the days following the coup.

'Disproportionate force'

The commission says government forces killed at least 12 people using "disproportionate force and tear gas" during days of protests.

"State agents or other perpetrators who apparently were serving the interests of state repression selectively assassinated" eight others, the commission, headed by Eduardo Stein, a former Guatemalan vice president, said.

The report did not identify the eight people assassinated, but it said high-ranking army and police officers ordered and covered up the killings.

Other estimates have placed the death toll at as many as 150 or as few as seven in the coup's aftermath. No one has been arrested or charged with any of the killings.

Zelaya said that the report's accusations against him are false. "I never in my life violated any laws," he told the AFP news agency.

'No charges filed'

If he had in fact violated the law, Zelaya said he would be facing criminal charges now, which he pointed out, is not the case.

"There have been no charges filed against me," he said.

He told the Associated Press that he had hoped for stronger accountability processes, which have not been successful.

"Contrary to what we hoped, impunity continues to favour those who carried out the coup d'etat and restrictions and political persecution is still taking place against members of the opposition," Zelaya said.

The truth commission made only 52 pages of its 800-page report public and said 10 per cent of the full report is being edited out and the remaining document will be deposited in a Canadian library to remain classified for 10 years.

Source:
Agencies
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