Trial of 10 military officers may be at least a month away

THE BALTIMORE SUN

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- A trial of the 10 military officers indicted last month on charges of kidnapping and torturing six students during the 1980s remains at least a month away, pending a review of the government's evidence by two criminal court judges and their decision as to whether to allow the prosecution to proceed.

The judges are interviewing the government's witnesses and visiting the buildings that were used as clandestine jails by Battalion 316, the secret intelligence unit trained by the CIA and which has been held responsible for many of the human rights abuses committed by the military.

The 10 former and active officers named in the government indictment are to be interviewed in the coming weeks, the judges say.

Judge Roy Medina, who is one of the investigating judges, said all interviews would be conducted behind closed doors.

"It may . . . help prevent the accused from being determined guilty in the press before they are tried in a court of law," the judge said.

Deputy Attorney General Rene Velasquez said that some of the government's most convincing evidence is the testimony of the students who were tortured for a week in 1982 and then released from a clandestine jail.

The case marks the first time that Honduran military officers have been charged for their alleged actions against suspected leftists during the 1980's.

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