Anger has been rippling through Honduran social media since last night as Kevin Solózano was found guilty of murdering a former judge named Edwin Eguigure. This rancour isn’t aimed at Kevin, mind. No. It’s at Honduras’s justice system, and it’s not the first time it’s been accused of corruption and injustice. It’s today, though, that Kevin will be sentenced, and it looks like it’ll be for a very long time.
“Why innocent people?” the Facebook commentaries say. Online petitions are being set up and signed as we speak (https://www.change.org/p/poder-judicial-honduras-justicia-para-kevin-soportado-honduras?recruiter=679362209&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink), and protest marches are being organised for tomorrow which will no doubt end reminding the powers that be a few more injustice and corruptive faux pas’s they’ve committed.
- Why isn’t Ricardo Alvarez (former Mayor of Tegucigalpa) behind bars for bollixing up the tram project, where money went missing to finish the project, with no explanation, no one held accountable, and he walks free?
- President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who admitted to using IHSS (NHS) funds to fund his Partido Nacionalelection campaign, letting thousands die in the process?
- Or Lena Guiterrez, who was found guilty of selling cornflower pills to the IHSS and also let people die, who hasn’t spent a day in prison?
(These are translated from Facebook, by the way; not actually my own words. Repeated in bold: not my words, just translated from folk in Facebook).
I can’t judge Kevin’s case for myself. I haven’t followed it that closely. But it’s been the talk on the street for some time and sensationalised in the press, as you might expect. I don’t think it’s divided opinions as such, but many people believe Kevin’s innocent, while others seem unsure what to believe. The evidence, I am told, stands heavily in Kevin’s favour, with videos, phone calls and alibis proving his innocence. But evidence doesn’t always matter to the powers that be, some believe, and we get that “Honduran surreal realism” tag-line all over again.
One thing I did learn in my law module in my journalism degree is to clearly state the facts, and then write allegedly before accusations or alternative facts, which seems to be a part of Trump’s Newspeak. As much as I love Hondurans, they can be world-class gossipers, which can cloud judgement. But when the judges are often clouded by corruption, it can be very hard to say what’s what with the labyrinth of information on the table. So I will tell you what I think the facts are, before I get to the heresy.
The crime happened on 11th November 2014 in El Chimbo, a small town which sits just outside Tegucigalpa on the way to Santa Lucía and Valle de Angeles. It’s residents made up of some the wealthiest in the country, but there is a fair bit of poverty as well. A “blink and miss it” kind of place, based on a bend on a busy road. I’ve flown through it any times but never felt the need to stop.
The victim was stabbed to death.
Kevin was a university student when the crime was committed. Late teens, early twenties, maybe. He wasn’t from a well-off family; they’ve had to rely on donations to pay the defence lawyers who some have accused as “not being very good”. I can’t say. Kevin was accused of the murder by the widow, María Auxiliadora Sierra and her son. Kevin didn’t receive bail and has been held in prison throughout the trial, with new evidence bouncing all over the place, and his fate ticking like a pendulum.
I am sure that I am missing out a lot more facts, but as suggested above, I don’t want to mix fact with heresy and offend or get sued.
As stated above, evidence seems overwhelmingly in Kevin’s favour, with video evidence even showing him to be in different place at the moment of the crime. One source told me that there is evidence that the widow is behind it, that she paid to have her husband killed, with witnessing claiming that she was heard screaming, “Not like this, not like this.” I can’t confirm or deny this. It’s just what I’ve been told.
Like stated above, despite the overwhelming evidence on Kevin’s side, the narrative seems to be that she was flip-flopping, unsure if she recognised Kevin’s face or not, but at the final hour she was adament it was him, and the judges took her word over everything else.
Smells fishy, certainly.
Not surprisingly, Hondurans are up in arms about this, while the government is trying to simmer things down and brush this under the carpet. Things like this don’t go away fast, though. We’re reaching a year’s anniversary since Berta Caceres was murdered, it still seems no one has been held accountable, and anger still burns. The organisation Global Witness has recently been stoking the flames by announcing the high number of environmental activists murdered at the hands of government officials since 2010. Not an ideal time for President Juan Orlando Hernandez, as he begins an election campaign trial, which I’m told is against the Honduran constitution; a president can only sit one term.
In Kevin’s case, it’s plausible that the Honduran justice system wanted a scapegoat and find someone guilty (the victim was an ex-colleague of theirs, after all) so they framed this young man. I’m speculating, and speculation is dangerous, but it happens in justice systems that are deemed just and fair to the rest of the world. Take the British with the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, for example. These things happen.
At the same time, it’s hard to know what’s going through the widow’s mind, because these fierce rumours could just be rumours and she’s lost her husband.
Nonetheless, at this moment in time a possible innocent sits in a room some cell waiting to hear his sentence, while Honduras rages, yet again.
Watch this space.