July 21, 2014

Leopoldo López's Family United in Washington on the Eve of Unjust Trial to Call for his Immediate Release 

"Leo is a politician - I am not. I am a loyal wife and devoted mother, who is now alone in raising our two young children. Because he has temporarily been silenced, I have had no choice but to speak out on his behalf...And this is what I have to say. No one in the world should doubt why Leo is in prison. President Maduro is afraid of him."

Lilian Tintori
Wife of Leopoldo López
July 21, 2014

Leopoldo López's Family United in Washington on the Eve of Unjust Trial to Call for his Immediate Release 

At a press conference today at the National Press Club, Lilian Tintori - wife of Venezuelan opposition leader and prisoner of conscience Leopoldo López - condemned Maduro for trampling on the fundamental rights of Leopoldo and countless other Venezuelans. With deep and heartfelt conviction, she spoke of Leopoldo's remarkable strength in the face of cruel and degrading treatment and the toll Leopoldo's imprisonment has on his family.

"We will all survive - but to be honest it is very difficult for me and my children. It is hard being a single parent. It is challenging feeling unsafe in my own country. And it breaks my heart having to explain to my daughter after every visit why her Daddy can't come home - and how, in Venezuela, sometimes the heroes are in prison."

A full transcript of her remarks is available here.

She was joined by Leopoldo's father, mother and two sisters to call for the immediate release of all Venezuela's political prisoners and for justice for those killed in the February protests. They also asked for the support of the international community to stand in solidarity with their family as they demand the restoration of human rights in Venezuela.

Lilian underscored their call for action in an op-ed published in today's issue of The Washington Post:

"Leopoldo is strong, and the longer he is in prison, the stronger his resolve becomes. Things do look grim, however, for the Venezuela whose political system, economy and society have been pushed into a downward spiral. Unless the international community takes targeted actions against the Maduro regime, the Venezuelan people will face further suffering."

White Paper Documents Numerous Violations of Human Rights, Due Process

Lilian and her international human rights lawyer, Jared Genser, also released a white paper at the press conference, which addresses the case against Leopoldo and the broader political and economic challenges facing Venezuela. It documents numerous violations of legal due process and human rights that have been committed before and since Leopoldo's arrest on February 19, 2014.

"After an exhaustive review of the government's case and actions against Mr. Lopéz, this is as clear cut a case of political injustice you will find anywhere in the world," said Genser. "The prosecution and judiciary has acted on the direct orders of the political leadership; they have presented no evidence against Mr. Lopéz; they have not allowed eyewitnesses to speak and they have rejected numerous items of evidence including video proving Mr. Lopéz's innocence; there has not been even the pretense of due process."

The Executive Summary is available here.

Trial Against Leopoldo Scheduled to Begin July 23

Leopoldo's trial was scheduled to begin this week, on July 23, although past court dates have been postponed with little warning or explanation. It is a landmark case in which the Venezuelan government will assert its authority to imprison political leaders based on their speech and opinions.

Leopoldo has been held in isolation in a military prison since his arrest in February for exercising his constitutional right to organize and participate in peaceful protests against the Maduro regime. He is being held on charges of public incitement, damage to property, fire damage and "association for conspiracy," and faces a 10-year prison sentence.

His defense team has petitioned to postpone the trial since the court has refused to accept approximately 65 witnesses and numerous pieces of evidence.

If the petition is denied, the trial against Leopoldo will take place at 11:00am on July 23, and be presided by Judge Susana Barreiro. Students Marco Coello, Christian Holdak, Demián Martín and Ángel González will also be judged.