July 11, 2014

Leopoldo López Awaits in Isolation as Trial Date Nears

"Leopoldo López's case is characterized by injustice; and the violation of Human Rights and due process...What is the point of a criminal trial? It is not to release or absolve. It is specifically to seek the truth, which necessitates proof, and for that the sides must be balanced and equal..."

- Juan Carlos Gutiérrez
Leopoldo López's Defense Attorney
June 19, 2014

Trial Begins July 23

On July 23, the trial against Venezuelan opposition leader and prisoner of conscience, Leopoldo López, will begin in Caracas. It is a landmark case, in which the Venezuelan government will assert its authority to imprison political leaders based on their speech and opinions. López faces a 10-year prison sentence for exercising his constitutional right to organize and participate in peaceful protests against the Maduro regime.

The trial against Leopoldo will take place at 11:00am and be presided by Judge Susana Barreiro. Students Marco Coello, Christian Holdak, Demián Martín and Ángel González will also be judged.

National Press Club Offers Leopoldo's Wife and Lawyer Stage to Speak Out

Leopoldo's wife, Lilian Tintori, and international lawyer Jared Genser will speak of these legal and human rights violations in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on July 21 - just two days before Leopoldo's trial begins in Caracas. More information about the NPC Newsmakers news conference is available here.

Depths of Injustice Revealed

López's defense attorney Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, as reported by El Universal, revealed in the clearest terms yet the degree to which justice has been perverted: "The attorney presented an amateur video which...contradicts the first witness. ... 'The video shows López calling for avoiding provocations, not resorting to violence, and leaving the Public Prosecutor alone.'"

A second amateur video "shows the demonstrators until they were dispersed by State security forces, and makes it clear that there was no fire in the headquarters of the Public Prosecutor of the Republic. Both videos - key in demonstrating the Popular Will Party leader's innocence - were rejected as evidence by the Public Prosecutor."

It is bad enough that the government has imprisoned López with no evidence. Making matters worse, the government has studiously ignored evidence that links violence to its own supporters: Said Gutierrez: "There are two minors who cannot be named for legal reasons who confessed in front of their mothers that they were the perpetrators who set fire to the patrol cars and threw rocks at the Public Prosecutor. This appears in the record and they said they were under the influence of drugs. One of these young men is the son of a well-known leader of a government-affiliated group. They were not tried."

The entire article translated into English is worth reading here.

Unjust Treatment Behind Bars

Since his imprisonment in February, Leopoldo has been systematically denied fundamental rights of prisoners. According to Gutiérrez, Leopoldo lives in solitary confinement, is only allowed sporadic visits from his legal team and family, is constantly searched and monitored by the guards, and is denied access to reading materials and certain mail.

And Leopoldo's isolation is only getting worse: authorities blocked a scheduled visit from Leopoldo's family just yesterday, telling them that they would not be allowed to see Leopoldo until the trial.

Though these acts are made in an attempt to break his will, Gutiérrez affirms that they have had the opposite effect:

"He is preparing himself day to day, strengthening himself physically, spiritually and intellectually for the new Venezuela that is coming and which needs everybody."