The Honduran Supreme Court recommended Thursday that lawmakers vote against restoring ousted President Manuel Zelaya, another blow for his quickly fading chances of returning to power.
The Supreme Court submitted its opinion six days before Congress is scheduled to vote on Zelaya's fate as part of a U.S.-brokered agreement to end the political crisis over a June coup.
The justices concluded that Zelaya should not be restored to the presidency because he has criminal charges pending against him, Supreme Court spokesman Danilo Izaguirre said.
"While he faces judicial charges, he cannot return to power," Izaguirre said.
Zelaya, who has been holed up in the Brazilian Embassy since sneaking back into the country from his forced exile Sept. 21, has declared the U.S.-backed pact a failure, arguing Congress is violating the spirit of the agreement by waiting until after presidential elections Sunday to decide his future.
The agreement called for the formation of a unity government but left the decision on restoring Zelaya up to Congress, which was given the option of consulting the Supreme Court and other institutions.
The Supreme Court justices had initially deemed Zelaya's ouster legal because he violated court orders to cancel a referendum on rewriting the constitution.
Opponents say Zelaya wanted to lift a ban on presidential re-election; Zelaya denies that was his goal.
Soldiers arrested Zelaya and whisked him out the country at gunpoint on June 28. Hours later, Congress voted to back his ouster.
Western Hemisphere countries, once united in condemning the coup, are divided on whether to recognize the elections, which had been scheduled before Zelaya's ouster.
Left-led Latin American countries say supporting the vote would be tantamount to whitewashing the coup. But the United States has indicated it will restore ties with the next Honduran government.