Honduran Military Chief Says Half-Brother Will Be Prosecuted
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ The nation’s armed forces chief said Rigoberto Regalado Lara, a Honduran diplomat being held in Miami on drug smuggling charges, also will be prosecuted in Honduras. The two men are half brothers.
″The law is the same for everyone and, independently of the ruling in the United States, we also will judge him in Honduras,″ Gen. Humberto Regalado Hernandez told reporters on Tuesday.
″We will apply the full weight of the law without conditions of any nature,″ he said. The two were born to the same father of different mothers.
Regalado Lara, Honduras’ ambassador to Panama, was arrested at Miami International Airport on Sunday after arriving from Tegucigalpa.
He was allegedly caught with nearly 26 pounds of cocaine in his luggage that the U.S. Customs Service said was packed in coffee to mask its smell from specially trained drug-sniffing dogs.
Regalado Lara, 49, is being held without bond pending a court hearing. On Monday, the Foreign Ministry suspended his appointment as ambassador and his diplomatic immunity.
The diplomat was called home after Panama’s de facto leader, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, had President Eric Arturo Delvalle deposed as president on Feb. 26, the day after Delvalle tried to fire Noriega as Defense Forces chief.
Three months ago, Regalado Lara spoke out in defense of Noriega, who was indicted by a federal grand juries in Florida in February on drug-trafficking and money laundering charges. He told reporters Noriega had acted legally.
Regalado Lara, a retired lieutenant colonel, has served as head of the 1st Artillery Battalion, the 2nd Air Infantry Battalion and the Regional Military Training Center, a school founded in 1984 by the United States for counterinsurgency training and closed in 1986.
He also has been ambassador to Nicaragua and military attache in Guatemala.
Regalado Lara, a master parachutist with more than 350 jumps, also was president of the National Emergency Committee, a state panel that operates during disasters.
In 1975, Regalado Lara led a movement of young officers that deposed Gen. Oswaldo Lopez Arellano as chief of state. The rebels accused him of receiving a $2.5 million bribe they said United Brands offered to reduce a banana export tax.