TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS, FEB. 24 -- Seven Honduran human rights and labor groups said today that they planned legal action against armed forces chief Gen. Humberto Regalado and accused him of crimes ranging from slander to helping terrorists.
They said they would also ask the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States to request official Honduran protection for 14 persons accused by Regalado of links to a subversive plot.
Meanwhile, government officials criticized an Amnesty International report released yesterday that said military-run death squads seemed to have reemerged in Honduras in the past two years. The officials said there were no officially sanctioned human rights abuses and that all killings were fully investigated.
The human rights and labor organizations said they planned "to start if possible in the relevant courts the legal processes linked to the criminal accusations" against Regalado.
They said the armed forces invented the report earlier this month about a Nicaraguan-backed subversive plot and that Regalado was guilty of slander. Regalado named 14 people allegedly involved in the plot, including a Jesuit priest. None has been arrested and the seven groups said their lives could be in danger after Regalado's accusations.
The statement also said Regalado was guilty of helping terrorists and of usurping the power of the civilian government by sending a letter to the U.S. Congress early this month just before it voted against military aid to the Nicaraguan rebels.
The Amnesty International report said death squads were apparently linked to a secret military intelligence unit, some of whose members were U.S.-trained. The rights group said it had appealed to the government to investigate the murder of Miguel Angel Pavon, an opposition legislator and human rights leader gunned down Jan. 14. An armed forces spokesman said a probe was under way.