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Honduras issues arrest warrant for Congress vice-president

National Congress vice president and member of the ruling National Party, Lena Gutierrez, speaks during a news conference in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduran authorities have issued an arrest warrant for federal lawmaker and Congress vice-president Lena Gutierrez, along with 15 other people accused of defrauding the country’s health ministry, the head of the supreme court said on Tuesday.

Gutierrez, from the governing National Party, was charged last week by the prosecutors office, along with her father, two brothers and several others for fraud, crimes against public health and falsification of documents.

“The order is to make sure that those being investigated cannot leave the country,” Jorge Rivera, the head of the Supreme Court of Honduras, said.

Gutierrez and her family have denied the charges and said that they have not had a relationship with a pharmaceutical company accused of overcharging and selling false medicines to the ministry for years.

The case comes amid angry protests calling for the resignation of President Juan Hernandez, who admitted that he took money for his 2013 presidential campaign from companies linked to a major corruption scandal. [ID:nL1N0ZD045]

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Ken Wills