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Honduran immigration detains ex-president over smuggled funds

by News Desk

In a bid to prevent corruption in Honduras, the country’s Immigration has allegedly detained former president, Manuel Zelaya, at the Central American nation’s Toncontin international airport for carrying $18,000 in cash.

The immigration claimed that the ex-president was smuggling cash out of the country when its officers accosted him and detained him for contravening the country’s law.

Zeleya, meanwhile, in an interview with newsmen yesterday, claimed that the cash was not his and that the law enforcement officers unjustly detained him even after he explained sources of the cash.

The former president said: “I don’t know the origin of that money. Obviously someone must have put it in my belongings. I have traveled 400 times and I know that you cannot travel with that amount of money. It is necessary to investigate who put that money in my belongings”.

Earlier, on his official Twitter page, he added: “The reason, a bag of money with $18,000, which is not mine. Now in the presence of the prosecutor”.

Zelaya stressed that he was stopped at immigration control in Toncontin airport after a search of his carry-on luggage which should not have occurred.

The former president had told newsmen that he planned to travel to Houston, Texas on a layover before flying to his final destination, Mexico, where he was set to give a conference on Saturday.

A spokesman for Honduras’ public prosecutor’s office debunked the allegations that Zelaya was detained and emphasized that the law enforcement officers were implementing provisions of the law.

The spokesman, Yuri Mora, said: “What is happening is what the law says, which means documenting (what happened) and once that is complete and signed by former president Zelaya, where he states the money is not his, he can easily go”.

Zelaya, who led Honduras from 2006 to 2009 and was an ally of late Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, was deposed by the military in a June 2009 coup as he was preparing to hold a referendum on presidential re-election, which his opponents said was a ploy to stay in power.

He remains active in politics as leader of the leftist Partido Libertady Refundacion party and his wife ran in presidential elections in 2013.

It would be recalled that laws aimed at controlling trafficking and money laundering allow for a maximum of $10,000 to be taken out the country, which must be declared to authorities.

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