David Romero Ellner claims the government is plotting to kill him for publishing exclusive exhibits uncovering the social security embezzlement scandal that has rocked the administration of President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
David Romero, the news director for Globo TV and Radio Globo published, among other things, checks from the Honduran Institute of Social Security (IHSS), showing funds were diverted through a network of shell corporations, some of which went to finance the campaign of the current president of Honduras.
The journalist has publicly announced on several occasions that he has evidence that the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Rigoberto Cuéllar, was bribed with about $250,000 to silence the Social Security fraud; additionally, Mr. Romero alleged that Cuéllar’s wife, Sonia Gálvez, profited from the embezzlement through her law firm. Sonia Gálvez is suing Romero for defamation.
In July, Romero was attending a hearing on the defamation case against him, when his trial was interrupted and suspended after a crowd burst into the building and took him to the National Commissioner of Human Rights (Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos – Conadeh) in Tegucigalpa. The communicator will remain there until the judiciary “can ensure a fair trial and due process”. Romero accused the court of following instructions from President Juan Orlando Hernández to send him to jail to be killed.
“They had a hitman ready to kill me at the national penitentiary,” said Romero, who believes that the president is taking revenge on him for having exposed the corruption.
On August 5th, by a vote of two to one, sentencing judges decided not to pass judgment on the case, but wait for the Constitutional Chamber of the Judiciary to answer protections appeals brought by the defense. David Romero said he was confident that justice will be done. He thanked the members of Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), some journalists, and the general public for their support.
David Romero Ellner is a notoriously outspoken and controversial figure. The grandson of Jewish immigrant from Czechoslovakia, Romero Ellner became a Liberal party congressman. On July 30, 2002, Romero Ellner was stripped of his parliamentary immunity, and charged with assaulting and raping his daughter. Following a DNA match, he pleaded guilty to the rape of his daughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2004, but served only a few years of that time.