Former first lady of Honduras sentenced to 58 years in jail


The former first lady of Honduras, Rosa Elena Bonilla, has been to 58 years in jail on charges of fraud and undue appropriation of funds.

Bonilla, 52, wife of former president Porfirio Lobo, has been in custody since February 2018.

Her lawyer said she was innocent and an appeal would be filed with the Honduras Supreme Court.

It would be Bonilla’s last chance to avoid serving the sentence.

She was accused of misusing the equivalent of $779,000 in funds between 2010 and 2014, which came from international donations and public funds meant to be used for social programmes.

The charges came from an investigation conducted by the attorney general’s office and a unit of the Organisation of American States.

Bonilla used the money to pay for medical bills, jewellery, tuition for her children and building work, the attorney general’s office said.

The court also sentenced Bonilla’s close associate, Saul Escobar, to a 48-year jail sentence for embezzlement of public funds and fraud, Supreme Court spokesman Carlos Silva said.

Even if Bonilla and Escobar do not have their sentences overturned or reduced, they will only serve 30 years at most, which is the maximum allowed by Honduran law.

Mr Lobo, who governed Honduras between 2010 and 2014, has also been linked to the Cachiros criminal organisation in trials in the US but has rejected these accusations.

One of his sons pleaded guilty before a US court in 2017 to conspiring to import cocaine into the US. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

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