The constitutional chamber of Honduras' Supreme Court has ruled that privately run cities in the Central American country would be unconstitutional, threatening a project to build "model cities" with their own police, laws, government and tax systems.

The five-judge panel's 4-to-1 decision was published Wednesday. Because the decision was not unanimous, the case now goes to the full 15-member Supreme Court.

An international group of investors and Honduran government representatives last month signed a memorandum of understanding on the construction of "private" cities that supporters of the project say would bring badly needed economic growth to the poor country.

The Supreme Court last year received a complaint against the proposed cities filed by a former constitutional prosecutor who calls the project "a catastrophe for Honduras."