TEGUCIGALPA — The military officers who rushed deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya out of the country Sunday committed a crime but will be exonerated for saving the country from mob violence, the army's top lawyer said.
In an interview with The Miami Herald and El Salvador's elfaro.net, army attorney Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza acknowledged that top military brass made the call to forcibly remove Zelaya — and they circumvented laws when they did it.
It was the first time any participant in Sunday's overthrow admitted committing an offense and the first time a Honduran authority revealed who made the decision that has been denounced worldwide.
''We know there was a crime there,'' said Inestroza, the top legal advisor for the Honduran armed forces. "In the moment that we took him out of the country, in the way that he was taken out, there is a crime. Because of the circumstances of the moment this crime occurred, there is going to be a justification and cause for acquittal that will protect us.''
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Zelaya was ousted in a predawn raid at his house Sunday after he vowed to defy a court order that ruled a nonbinding referendum to be held that day illegal. The leftist wealthy rancher had clashed with the attorney general, the Supreme Court, Congress and the military he commanded.
But instead of being taken to court to stand trial for abuse of power and treason, the military swept him out of bed at gunpoint and forced him into exile.
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