TEGUSIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — The president of Honduras’ main opposition party fled the international airport Tuesday by breaking through a parking gate in his truck after immigration agents stopped him for having two passports before boarding a flight to the United States, the authorities said.
David Chavez Madison, president of the National Party, left Palmerola International Airport around 3 a.m. Tuesday, leaving his passports behind when immigration agents called him in for a second inspection, Alan Alvarenga, director of the Honduran immigration service.
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Chavez left the terminal wearing a black baseball cap, black jacket and black pants, according to images released by authorities.
The passport issue, however, may not have been Chavez’s main problem.
Hours later, a judge ordered Chavez’s arrest based on an investigation into a 2016 complaint by the non-governmental National Anti-Corruption Council alleging irregularities during Chavez’s time as director of the National Vocational Training Institute, a government agency that manages training programs workforce.
The alleged irregularities relate to a 2012 and 2013 bidding process that awarded a significantly inflated contract to build regional education centers in several Honduran cities, said Yuri Mora, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.
Security Minister Gustavo Sanchez said at a press conference on Tuesday that investigations into Chavez are ongoing.
Chavez knew he was under investigation and held a news conference Monday to dismiss it as political prosecution.
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Honduras has been in political turmoil as President Xiomara Castro’s ruling party sought to exert control over the judicial system. Castro’s allies in Congress appointed an interim attorney general, a move that analysts and constitutional scholars have called illegal.
The opposition, including Chavez, has accused Castro of consolidating power and eroding the country’s system of checks and balances.