Archive for March 28th, 2008

Prosecutor accusation against former General Prosecutor Isaias Rodriguez confirms gross miscarriage of justice under Chavez

March 28, 2008


While it
comes as no surprise, today we got confirmation as to how former General
Prosecutor Isaias Rodriguez carried out gross miscarriages of justice while
occupying the office which is suppose to defend and uphold the laws in Venezuela.

It is no
surprise, because Rodriguez used his office to persecute the Government’s
enemies and seldom took the time to go after the Government’s friends.
Moreover, he was always suggesting that cases would be closed soon, while
actually completing few of them.

No case
may be more emblematic than that of the murder of one of his main Prosecutors,
Danilo Anderson, who was assassinated using explosives in his car. Rodriguez
accused the opposition from day one and failed to follow leads suggesting that Anderson carried out a
lifestyle beyond his means. In fact, Anderson’s
friends charged that the assassinated prosecutor kept large amounts of money in
his apartment, money that was never found and were certainly beyond Anderson’s means. Other indications were never followed up in the investigation.

After
raiding the homes of opposition figures and suggesting the case was almost
ready to be prosecuted, Rodriguez found a “star” witness who he used to
prosecute a number of opposition figures, including reporter Patricia Poleo,
who still remains in exile. All of the charges against those accused have been
dropped, including businessman Nelson Mezerhane.

Well,
today a Prosecutor that worked for Rodriguez in the Anderson
case named Jose Contreras, presented a formal accusation to the new General
Prosecutor in which he charges that Rodriguez manipulated the penal
investigation into the Anderson
case.  While the accusation may be
politically motivated, I would like to think that there are people with ethics and
principles within the Government who may be at times pressured to shut up, but
rebel when those involved leave Government or their behavior exceeds certain
limits. It may be that the Prosecutor making the charges was sick at reading
yesterday
that his former boss was preparing the documentation necessary and
“working on” becoming  a member of the
Venezuelan Supreme Court, truly an insult to anyone with certain basic morals
and principles.

In any
case, the charges presented against Rodriguez are quite extensive and damaging
and I certainly hope they stop Rodriguez aspiration to become ea member of the
Supreme Court, although given the recent cases with other chavistas accusing
Government officials, maybe it will be Prosecutor Jose Contreras that gets
fired or accused of corruption.  

Contreras
says that Rodriguez himself switched and changed the files on the Danilo
Anderson case, who would argue that the content of the files had to be reviewed
by “High Government” since the investigation was a “State problem”. According
to Contreras, Rodriguez would later meet with them and would tell them to remove
a certain person’s name or include someone else’s, as well as describing that
person’s characteristics. Nothing in the investigations was done without the
precise instructions of the Prosecutor, says Contreras.

He also
said that Rodriguez said the star witness in the Anderson case had fooled him,
but Rodriguez never revealed who brought the star witness to him and why
Rodriguez never listened to the other prosecutors who told him the witness had
little or no credibility.

Contreras says he interviewed the star witness
exhaustively and was able to convince himself that the witness had interests
different from collaborating with Justice.

The prosecutor also charges that Rodriguez asked
people to be detained based on the star witness’s testimony, but most of them
have now been freed. He reminds the current General prosecutor that when she
was in charge of Processes he told her about the irregularities in the case and
as Isaias Rordriguez told him: “He needed to have a case..because the radical
currents of Chavismo were asking for results with the intellectual authors of
the crime in jail”. Contreras says Rodriguez’ egocentric personality and his
political involvement led him to deviate in his mandate as General Prosecutor.
(The full letter in Spanish is here)

The
case is just an example of what we have been saying about Justice under Chavez for years.
How Chavez has misused his power to neutralize enemies and how he has castrated
the independent institutions that are supposed to provide checks and balances
in a democratic society. The Prosecutor, the People’s Ombudsman and the
Comptroller have been puppets of Chavez for the last five years. They have been
used as tools of political pressure against the opposition and the fact that
their job was defined from above, implied these men ignored the mandates of
their position, allowing corruption, abuse of power and human rights violations
to flourish during the last nine years.  

Except
that by now, even Chavistas are totally fed up with it…

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