wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04CARACAS2702
2004-08-24 20:19:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

VENEZUELAN MAYOR CARPRILES (STILL) HELD FOR TRIAL

Tags:  PHUM PGOV KJUS VE 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L  CARACAS 002702 

SIPDIS


NSC FOR CBARTON
HQ USSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID DCHA/OTI FOR RPORTER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/25/2014
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS VE
SUBJECT: VENEZUELAN MAYOR CARPRILES (STILL) HELD FOR TRIAL


Classified By: A/DCM ABELARDO A. ARIAS FOR REASONS 1.4 (d)

-------
SUMMARY
-------



1. (U) A Caracas judge ruled August 18 that Baruta Mayor
Henrique Capriles should stand trial for the events at the
Cuban Embassy on April 12, 2002. The judge also ruled that
Capriles should remain in jail. PolOff attempted to attend
the Capriles trial August 17, but was denied entry as was the
rest of the public on the grounds that this was a pre-trial
hearing. Capriles' lawyers accused the police of attempting
to intimidate everyone involved in the trial. The GOV knows
the USG is concerned by the Capriles case; the GOV needs to
get similar messages from other governments and human rights
NGOs. End Summary.



--------------------------


Capriles to Trial


--------------------------





2. (C) Eighth Control Court Judge Juan Ramon Leon Villanueva
ruled on August 18 that Baruta Mayor Henrique Capriles should
stand trial for the crimes he is accused of in relation to
the events at the Cuban Embassy on April 12, 2002. Judge Leon
also left in place the detention order against Capriles. The
case must now be assigned to a trial judge. Caracas Trial
Judge Beatriz Perez told PolOff August 17 that no trial judge
would dare to release Capriles now, and that his imprisonment
was effectively indefinite, due to the political pressure
surrounding the case.



--------------------------


Judicial Plotting


--------------------------





3. (C) Capriles' defense lawyer, Juan Martin Echevarria
accused Judge Leon of suspending the session August 17 so he
could consult on the decision with Caracas Judicial Circuit
President Judge Nelson Chacon, Judge Maikel Moreno, and Judge
Orangel Garcia. Judge Chacon denied these charges to
reporters on August 19. Martin told PolOff August 17 that
Judge Orangel Garcia carried instructions from the GOV to
judges in the Caracas criminal courts. Martin said the fact
that two appeals in this case have been assigned to Orangel
Garcia's court was the result of political manipulation of
the case assignment system.



--------------------------


PolOff Visits Court


--------------------------





4. (C) PolOff attempted to attend the Capriles trial on
August 17. The judicial officials who were controlling
admission to the Control Courts informed PolOff that
pre-trial hearings are always closed to the public. PolOff
was allowed access to the corridor where the courts are
located. Six DISIP agents, two of whom carried M-16 rifles,
escorted Capriles to the courtroom. Defense lawyer Jose
Octavio told PolOff it was only the second time that the
agents had been so heavily armed. He said it was not normal
for prisoners to be taken to court by armed police, and that
the display was designed to intimidate everyone involved in
the case. Capriles appeared healthy, and was not handcuffed.
The leadership of the Primero Justicia political party waited
in the hall for several hours for the hearing to end, along
with lawyers, family and friends.



5. (C) PolOff expressed USG interest in the case to
prosecutor Danilo Anderson. The prosecutor, visibly
uncomfortable, said he would contact PolOff in the future.
PolOff also approached Capriles' fellow Primero Justicia
party leaders to indicate USG interest.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------






6. (C) The Capriles case is both a symbol of opposition
resistance to Chavez, and a measure of Chavez, willingness
to use the judicial system to pressure his opponents,
particularly those associated (in his view) with the April
2002 coup and the December 2002 strike/sabotage of petroleum
facilities. The imprisonment of a defiant Capriles sends a
very tough message within and without Venezuela. It is
unclear how far Chavez will proceed with this case, or with
the cases of Generals Uson and Poggioli, or the investigation
of Sumate. Chavez faces a dilemma: conviction of Capriles -
on flimsy or nonexistent evidence - would confirm allegations
of human rights abuses and political use of the judiciary
(although Chavez could live with this); releasing him would
give comfort to an opposition that refuses to recognize the
referendum results.



7. (C) The Charge raised the Capriles and Sumate cases with
Vice President Rangel on July 30. PolOff,s August 17
attempt to attend the pre-trial hearing and his talk with
prosecutor Anderson underscored USG concern about Capriles.
What Capriles (and others) really need, however, is broader
international expressions of concern, particularly from Latin
American countries and also human rights NGOs.
McFarland


NNNN
2004CARACA02702 - CONFIDENTIAL