Honduras judges flee court as family of convicted man turn on them

TEGUCIGALPA (AFP) - Three judges in Honduras were forced to flee a courtroom when dozens of relatives of man they had sentenced for murder turned on them, AFP journalists saw.

The disturbance occurred late Wednesday (Feb 8) in a criminal court in the capital Tegucigalpa.

In a 2-1 decision, the judges convicted and sentenced Kevin Solorzano, a 21-year-old student, to 20 to 30 years in prison for murder, and another 13 to 20 years for attempted murder.

Around 100 relatives and friends of Solorzano who had packed the courtroom erupted in rage at the verdict, yelling that the judges had been "bought off." Fearing mob violence, the magistrates escaped through their chambers.

The angry relatives quickly dissipated. Eight police officers who had been present made no arrests.

The case related to a murder on Nov 11, 2014 of a former prosecutor, Edwin Eguigure.

His wife who was with him that night, Maria Auxiliadora Sierra, identified Solorzano as one of three assailants she said had attacked them. She said he had tried to also kill her but his pistol had jammed.

During the trial, the hypothesis that Sierra had contracted a hitman to kill her husband and then scapegoated Solorzano was evoked, but the judges favoured the wife's testimony.

The trial verdict was trending on social networks in Honduras on Thursday, with many users voicing opinions that the judges might not have been impartial.