April 29, 2014

Leopoldo López, Prisoner of Conscience, Awaits Probable Cause Hearing

My son's incarceration represents Venezuelans' prison. Everyone is in prison now when we have someone like Leopoldo in prison.

We go into that jail with heavy hearts, so much sadness. But when we leave, we feel illuminated by his nature, his disposition.

After 15 years of brutal and failed economic policies, it is time to speak out - not just against the injustice against Leopoldo and other pro-Democracy leaders, but against every single family in Venezuela.

-- Leopoldo López Senior
April 23, 2014

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Happy Birthday, Leopoldo. Today Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López spends his 43rd birthday behind bars as a prisoner of conscience, awaiting a probable cause hearing for crimes he did not commit. On May 8, 2014, a judge will determine whether Leopoldo will stand trial for arson, damage to property, instigation and criminal association - crimes that could carry a 14-year prison sentence.

New Video Reveals What Really Happened. A newly released video depicts the utter absurdity of the charges against Leopoldo by showing what he actually said and did over the week in question. In his public speeches and statements, Leopoldo clearly and repeatedly calls for peaceful demonstrations and warns his supporters to resist "the temptation of violence or confrontation" that would play into the hands of the regime.

May 8 Probable Cause Hearing. This hearing - like all aspects of the supposed legal case against Leopoldo - is heavily stacked against the defense. The judge is beholden to the Maduro regime. The prosecution sets the rules of permissible evidence. Leopoldo's defense team has made countless requests to submit witness testimonies, videos and transcripts into evidence, yet almost all have been rejected. The prosecution faces no such restrictions. The hearing will be held inside this bus parked at the Military Prison of Ramo Verde - away from public view. This happens to be outside the proper legal jurisdiction of the Court 16° of Control, which is administering the hearing.

Leopoldo's Father Speaks Out. Leopoldo's father gave several wide-ranging interviews in which he described visiting his son in prison and commented on the need for the international community to act. In one interview he spoke about the dialogue sessions between the Maduro government and some members of the opposition, stating: "We don't believe in the conference. The students are not represented and Leopoldo's party is not represented. Maria Corina is not represented. Antonio Ledezma is not represented. Who is really sitting down to talk with the government?...So we feel very bad about that and do support the students in not recognizing that conference as a valid conference." Mr. López also said his son's incarceration was a symbol of the struggle faced by Venezuela's protesters: "It represents Venezuelans' prison. Everyone is in prison now when we have someone like Leopoldo in prison." In a second interview, Mr. López gave an intimate account of his son's time in jail.