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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04CARACAS2808
2004-09-08 13:08:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

VENEZUELAN MAYOR RELEASED FROM PRISON

Tags:  PHUM KJUS PGOV VE 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L  CARACAS 002808 

SIPDIS


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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/25/2014
TAGS: PHUM KJUS PGOV VE
SUBJECT: VENEZUELAN MAYOR RELEASED FROM PRISON


Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR ABELARDO A. ARIAS FOR REASONS 1.4 (d
)

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



1. (C) Judge Dayva Soto Vallenilla released Baruta Mayor
Henrique Capriles from pre-trial detention September 6,
following a defense motion on September 2. Capriles must
appear before the court every 15 days, remain in Venezuela,
and is not allowed to make public comments on the case
against him. Prosecutor Danilo Anderson has five days to
appeal the decision. Chacao Mayor Leopoldo Lopez said the
decision "gave a ray of light in a Judicial Power which is
rotten, and takes decisions according to political
interests." MVR Deputy Willian Lara called the decision proof
that "the Venezuelan state respects the rights, even of those
who do not respect the Bolivarian Constitution and the
law..." The DCM met with Capriles' mother August 30, and
advised her on her September 1 meeting with Vice President
Rangel. A source close to Rangel told the Ambassador that
Rangel had persuaded Chavez that the GOV should -- informally
-- prevail on the courts to free Capriles. End Summary.



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


Capriles Freed


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





2. (U) Judge Dayva Soto Vallenilla ruled in favor of a
defense motion to free Baruta Mayor Henrique Capriles
(Primero Justicia) from pre-trial detention on September 6,
after 120 days in DISIP custody. Capriles is charged with
colluding with rioters in front of the Cuban Embassy on April
12, 2002. Judge Soto substituted the detention order with the
requirement that Capriles present himself to the court every
15 days, not leave Venezuela, and not make public comments on
the case. Prosecutor Danilo Anderson has five days to
consider an appeal of the decision. Capriles was released the
evening of September 6.



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


Lopez Cites Leon Case


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





3. (U) Chacao Mayor Leopoldo Lopez (Primero Justicia) told
reporters the decision was, "a ray of light in a Judicial
Power which is rotten, and takes decisions according to
political interests." Lopez pointed to the arrest on
September 4 of Judge Juan Ramon Leon Villanueva, on charges
of trying to bribe the head of Venezuela's investigative
police (CICPC). Leon was the judge who ordered Capriles be
sent to trial on August 18. Lopez called Leon, "a corrupt
judge who was seen committing extortion, and who ended up
showing that the Capriles case was political."



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


Even Justice for our Enemies


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





4. (U) MVR Deputy Willian Lara told official news agency
VenPress that the decision to release Capriles was proof
that, "the Venezuelan state respects the rights, even of
those who do not respect the Bolivarian Constitution and the
law, with anti-democratic conduct of a fascist character, as
was (Capriles') on April 12, 2002 in the assault on the Cuban
Embassy." He said the decision invalidates all the
accusations of Primero Justicia leaders that Capriles' rights
had been violated.



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


The Judge


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





5. (C) Capriles defense lawyer Juan Martin Echeverria told
PolOff August 31, when the case was assigned to Judge Soto,
that she was a professional judge with several years on the
bench. He said he was sure she would be under pressure to

conform to the GOV line on the case. Trial Judge Beatriz
Perez told PolOff September 3 that Judge Soto was not a
Chavista, and noted that she had made no effort to have
herself removed from the controversial case.



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


DCM Meets with Capriles Mother


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





6. (C) The DCM met with Capriles' mother, Monica Radonski,
August 30. Ms. Radonski told the DCM she had an appointment
with Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, and asked DCM for
his advice on how best to take advantage of the meeting. The
DCM advised Ms. Radonski to make an appeal to Rangel on
humanitarian grounds, to leave her lawyers behind, and not to
make accusations about the political nature of the case.



7. (C) A source close to VP Rangel told the Ambassador and
DCM September 7 that Rangel had convinced the President that
they should find a way to get the court to release Capriles.
President Carter had raised the issue with Chavez, and we
believe this helped as well.



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


Comment


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





8. (C) The GOV was looking for some way out of the Capriles
situation. It did so without ostensibly violating the
separation of powers -- but clearly Chavez' change of mind
drove the process. This decision temporarily reduces pressure
on the GOV on human rights issues. How the GOV proceeds with
the trial will still be significant, as will be the
conclusion of the trial of nine Chavez opponents in Tachira
state (which we understand the GOV is examining) and the
proceedings against Generals Alfonzo, Uson and Poggioli.
Brownfield


NNNN
2004CARACA02808 - CONFIDENTIAL