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Honduran Congress Grants Zelaya, Coup Plotters Amnesty

Deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya

Supreme Court also clears senior military leaders of criminal charges; both moves seen as steps toward national reconciliation before President-elect Lobo takes office Wednesday

The Honduran Congress has approved amnesty for deposed President Manuel Zelaya and all those responsible for the coup that removed him from power.

The vote past the legislature late Tuesday, just hours after a Honduran Supreme Court judge cleared senior military leaders of criminal charges for their roles in the coup that ousted Mr. Zelaya last June.

The former president had faced charges of treason and abuse of power.

Earlier this month, prosecutors with the attorney general's office filed "abuse of power" charges against the military leaders, including Army Commander Romeo Vasquez Velasquez.

But the court ruled Tuesday the military leaders acted to preserve peace in Honduras.

Both the amnesty and the Supreme Court ruling were seen as steps toward national reconciliation before President-elect Porfirio Lobo is scheduled to be sworn into office Wednesday.

On June 28, soldiers arrested Mr. Zelaya in his home, put him on a plane and flew him to Costa Rica. Mr. Zelaya returned to Honduras in September and has been holed up at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.

Following Wednesday's inauguration, Mr. Zelaya will leave Honduras and travel to the Dominican Republic.

Mr. Zelaya accepted an agreement reached last week between Mr. Lobo and the Dominican government for the ousted president to go to the Dominican Republic.

Mr. Lobo has said he supports amnesty for those involved in the coup as well as Mr. Zelaya.

Mr. Zelaya's opponents say he was ousted because he was trying to illegally change the constitution to extend his term in office.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.