The mini-caption above the photo of Mario Zelaya says: Article 35 of the Penal Code prevents the duration of jail-time for multiple crimes from exceeding 30 years.
The punishment for the actions of the former director of the Honduran Institute Of Social Security (IHSS) Mario Roberto Zelaya (who is 49) is to spend 56 years and 3 months in prison, which is the maximum penalty that the Public Prosecutors were seeking in the aftermath of the theft of millions of Lempiras from the public institution.
Prior to this sentence Zelaya had accumulated a sentence of 25 years in prison and now added another 31 years to that sentence for the recent decision that was guilty of another of the crimes he was accused of. Despite this decision it appears that Zelaya and other high-profile criminals like him will benefit from a part of the Penal Code.
Another beneficiary of this part of the Penal Code will be the former general administrator of the IHSS Jose Bertetty who has accumulated 46 years and 3 months in prison. It appears that article 35 of the Penal Code will keep them from witnessing justice in full as it says: “Those guilty of two or more crimes will face the sentences of their crimes at once. The sentences will be completed simultaneously, if possible. The total years spent behind bars cannot exceed 30 years.”
This benefits both Zelaya and Bertetty by protecting them against their actual sentences. The article says that theoretically because of this part of the Penal Code either or both Zelaya and Bertetty could be sentenced to 100 years behind bars but they’d only have to serve 30. What’s worse is that people who are sentenced to 30 years behind bars are only required to serve 2/3rds of their sentences and upon hitting the 20 year mark it’s possible that they could be released for good behavior, and/or face limited freedom.
Dagoberto Aspra (a doctor in penal sciences) said that “Mario Zelaya, even if he had a 100 year sentence would only be imprisoned 30 years, but for 30 years complete years with no possibility of an early release.” In the wake of article 35 of the Penal Code codifying the idea that no one can be in jail for more than 30 years for multiple crimes. Odir Fernandez, head of the Unit of Investigation and Case Analysis for the National Anti-Corruption Council offered similar statements. Fernandez said that even if Zelaya got 100 year sentences for each of his crimes he’d only serve 30 total years in prison.
Trials & Sentences:
Mario Zelaya has been accused of being the mastermind behind the multi-million Lempira theft of the funds of the Social Security Institute during his tenure as the organization’s director from 2010-2014 by the Public Prosecutors.
In his first sentence he was condemned to 15 years in prison for abusing his authority, fraud, and violating the obligations of all functionaries due to his overspending on airline tickets to the United States. In his second sentence he was condemned to 10 years for storing prohibited weapons, ammunition for weapons for war, and for commercial firearms. He is still awaiting the exact sentence they’ll give him for money laundering and for calling in bribes to the vice-ministers. Additionally another pending sentence for him is the sentence for the implication of his roles in helping the “briefcase businesses” getting money and stealing it from the Institute.
He has received a stay of proceedings in the court for irregularities due to the income tax of various employees of the IHSS, but he has to go to court for the cases of transferring funds to the pockets of Regimen de Invalidez, Vejez y Muerte, and about the over-inflation of the contracts with the constructor JC Maradiaga, for 47 million Lempiras.