In Testimony, Former Honduras President Denies Trafficking Drugs

The former two-term president of Honduras denied in court on Tuesday that he had trafficked narcotics, offered police protection to drug cartels or taken bribes — assertions that have been at the heart of a conspiracy trial taking place in Manhattan.

The former president, Juan Orlando Hernández, has been on trial for two weeks in Federal District Court, facing charges that he conspired to import cocaine into the United States. Prosecutors said that he worked with ruthless drug gangs like the Sinaloa Cartel, led by the Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzman Loera, better known as El Chapo.

Government witnesses have included a string of former traffickers from Honduras who testified that they bribed Mr. Hernández in return for promises that he would insulate them from investigations and protect them from extradition to the United States.

Dressed in a dark suit with a blue shirt and tie, Mr. Hernández sat up straight during his testimony and sometimes gave long, discursive answers that prompted the judge overseeing the trial to rein him in.

At other times his answers were terse.

“Did you ever receive a bribe from El Chapo?” one of Mr. Hernández’s lawyers asked at one point.

“Never,” Mr. Hernández replied.

He gave the same answer to successive questions about whether he had ever met El Chapo, his traffickers or anyone purporting to be a member of the Sinaloa cartel.

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