Head of anticorruption mission in Honduras resigns

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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — The head of the Organization of American States' anti-corruption mission in Honduras resigned Thursday citing a lack of support from the regional body and the Honduran government.

Juan Jimenez Mayor said in a statement that the OAS didn't provide the resources necessary for the mission to be effective and noted that OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro did not receive him last month when he traveled to Washington.

On Wednesday, Almagro sent a letter to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez expressing disappointment in the results so far produced by the mission.

The mission was established in 2016 after Hernandez bent to massive street protests calling for an international body to investigate corruption. The public wanted a United Nations commission similar to the one in Guatemala that has scored resounding prosecutions, but the OAS stepped in instead.

In December, the mission announced a corruption case against five lawmakers, but in January Honduras' Congress passed a law effectively shielding them.

The changes passed by lawmakers required that all public spending be evaluated by the country's court of auditors for a period of three years, Jimenez said last month. During that time, no civil or criminal judicial action can be taken.

Jimenez said the legislative changes would freeze the case brought by Honduran prosecutors and the mission in December that alleged money for public projects was routed through a nonprofit organization and then immediately funneled into the personal bank accounts of the five lawmakers.

Shortly after the law change, the judge in the corruption case ruled that it be shelved until the court of auditors takes it up.

Jimenez said Thursday, the mission was "extremely worried" by the reaction of Honduran authorities toward that case. He also mentioned building pressure and threats against the mission without providing details.

"I call on the Honduran people to demand the continuation of the mission and the selection of a new chief of mission that guarantees the seriousness and firmness in the fight against corruption and impunity in Honduras," Jimenez said.

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