|Family Members of Ebed Yanes Hold Vigil Outside Court|
The Honduran Supreme Court of Justice has finally ruled on the motion presented by the Committee of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) to expand the homicide charges for the death of 15-year old Ebed Yanes to WHINSEC/SOA graduate Second Lt. Josue Sierra and Corporal Felipe de Jesus Rodriguez. Three of the seven soldiers in the truck that pursued Ebed are said to have shot at the unarmed 15 year old: Second Lt. Sierra, Corporal Rodriguez, and Sargeant Eliazar Rodriguez. However, with the impunity that reigns in Honduras' justice system, only one has been charged with murder. Conveniently, it was not Lt. Sierra, who was part of the US-vetted and equipped special forces unit, is said to have given the order to shoot the unarmed 15-year old and fired shots himself. Sierra was also in charge of the US-donated pick-up truck that they used to kill Ebed.
COFADEH has presented multiple motions to expand the homicide charge to include Lt. Sierra and Corporal Rodriguez to no avail. The court denied the motion and threatened to throw COFADEH's lawyer out of the courtroom. An appeal was also denied. Now, COFADEH's motion to the Supreme Court to expand the homicide charges was ruled as inadmissable, meaning that Lt. Sierra and Corporal Rodriguez continue to face much lesser charges. (Honduras' Supreme
Court isn't exactly known for its judicial independence -- at 4am one morning in December the Honduran Congress fired 4 Supreme Court
justices who had voted in a way that did not appease the Congress'
ruling party.) As a result of the Supreme Court's decision, the US can continue to say that nobody in the US-vetted special forces unit is charged with the homicide. Ebed's mother, Berlin Caceres, noted that "in our country there is so much impunity that Second Lt. Sierra doesn't even go to sign in at the court... as he is supposed to."
Six high ranking military officials -- including four SOA graduates -- had to appear in court on Wednesday where they were officially charged with covering up the murder of Ebed Yanes. Family members of Ebed Yanes held vigil outside the court while COFADEH's lawyer was allowed to observe the hearing -- even though as the legal representative of the Ebed's family she can't participate in the case because it is simply a case of the government against the military, which leaves lots of room for coming to an easy agreement.
Despite facing charges for cover-up, abuse of authority, or violating official duties, none of these military officials have been suspended; they continue as Commanders and other high ranking roles and some have even been promoted since they covered up the murder. Those charged include:
* SOA graduate Lt. Col. Juan Rubén Girón, who was the supervising official for the checkpoint. When the soldiers told him that they had killed a boy, he is said to have told them to go back to the checkpoint to remove the evidence and instructed them not to say what happened.
* SOA graduate Col. Reynel Funes Ponce, who was Commander of the US-vetted and equipped First Special Forces Battalion. He ordered the exchange of the weapons used to murder Ebed so that they wouldn't be traced to the crime.
* 3-time SOA "Distinguished Graduate" Col. Jesus A. Marmol Yanes, the Commander of Operation Lightning. He is said to have lied to investigators and obstructed the investigation by turning over the wrong weapons to be investigated.
* SOA graduate Lt. Col. Mariano Mendoza, who was the Deputy Commander of US-vetted First Special Forces Battalion. He suggested to the soldiers who were to be questioned in the investigation the testimony they should tell the investigators.
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