HomeNewsBriefHonduras Court Blocks Pardon of Inmate ‘Hero’ Who Saved Hundreds from Prison Fire
BRIEF

Honduras Court Blocks Pardon of Inmate ‘Hero’ Who Saved Hundreds from Prison Fire

HONDURAS / 24 FEB 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Honduras’ Supreme Court ruled that an inmate who saved hundreds of people from the Comayagua prison fire cannot be granted early release, even though the president promised to pardon him.

Marco Antonio Bonilla may have saved as many as 250 inmates from the fire when he stayed behind to unlock the prison cells, he told the Associated Press. The Valentine’s Day fire killed 360 inmates, and shone a spotlight on the grisly conditions in Honduras’ prison system. While prison guards where panicking,·Bonilla·grabbed a set of keys to open locks, and used a bench to smash down doors and save prisoners from the flames, according to a report in the Guardian.

On Tuesday President Porfirio Lobo said that he would pardon Bonilla, for taking “incredible risks to try and save lives.”

But a Supreme Court spokesperson said that under the Honduran penal code, Bonilla cannot be pardoned or granted early release because he was convicted of serious crimes, including a murder charge in 1997 and another in 2006. He was also convicted of robbery that year. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison and has served slightly over half.

Fifty-year-old Bonilla, who worked as a nurse in the jail, told El Heraldo, “If they want to let me go free, let them, I’ve already decided to pay my time.”

“It’s better not to have illusions,” he added.

InSight Crime Analysis

Bonilla could still see a pardon if Congress changes the constitution and penal code, which would allow inmates convicted of serious crimes to receive pardons from the president.

According to El Heraldo, the executive branch received 358 requests for a pardon last year. But pardons and conditional liberty are rarely granted. Currently there are some 540 inmates in Honduras petitioning for an early release, El Heraldo reports.

As the Guardian points out, Bonilla has became a hero for Hondurans because so few other actors involved in the tragedy — prison guards, firefighters, and authorities responsible for identifying the bodies — demonstrated competence. Part of the legal issue seems to be whether President Lobo can still grant Bonilla a pardon, even if the Supreme Court rules against it.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 15 FEB 2021

The violent death of nursing student Keyla Patricia Martínez Rodríguez while in police custody in Honduras recalls the worst accusations…

HONDURAS / 27 MAR 2014

The chief of Honduras' military police force has outlined plans to double the number of officers on the…

HONDURAS / 30 OCT 2013

Presidential candidates in Honduras' upcoming elections have laid out their planned security policies for the violence ravaged country, although it…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…