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.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 20 FEB 2021

Drug traffickers engage in a creative game of hide and seek with coast guards and other security forces that board…

GENDER AND CRIME / 7 JAN 2021

Labor initiatives inside women´s prisons in Latin America aim to improve employment opportunities for female inmates, so as to reduce…

COCAINE / 17 FEB 2021

Following the capture of some of its biggest criminal names, organized crime in Honduras has gone through a metamorphosis that…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…