September 9, 2014

As Trial Resumes, Leopoldo López Continues to Suffer Abuses of Justice

"What is the purpose of a trial in which one of the parties cannot produce a single evidence to defend itself? That's not a trial; it's an aberration to justice. This trial is an execution wall, I just want to state that."

- Leopoldo López
28th Trial Court of Caracas

Leopoldo Defense Team and Friends of a Free Venezuela File Complaints to OHCHR

On September 5, 2014, the defense team of Venezuelan opposition leader and prisoner of conscience Leopoldo López filed a petition to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, part of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Leopoldo's trial is proceeding with approximately 100 witnesses, 16 expert testimonies, seven reports, four videos and two on-site inspections for the prosecution. In stark contrast, the Venezuelan court has accepted only two defense witnesses out of 60 proposed by the defense. The submission asserts:

Throughout the legal proceedings, the government of Venezuela has violated international standards for due process of law under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 41 including the right to be tried before an independent and impartial judiciary, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to present a case and the right to have confidential attorney-client communications.

You can read the entire complaint here.

In addition, Friends of a Free Venezuela submitted a complaint to OHCHR's Committee Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment on September 2. The complaint asserts that Leopoldo's continued solitary confinement is punishment for his political activities, and also details the egregious abuses committed against the six students accused of carrying out the crimes allegedly ordered by Leopoldo.

You can read the entire submission here.

Washington Post: Government of Venezuela Disregards Evidence in Leopoldo's Trial

On September 1, the Washington Post blasted the trial, which resumed on August 28. The article compared the trial to a railroad, moving along towards a pre-determined outcome with no regard to actual evidence.

El Tiempo: Leopoldo Maintains Focus, Despite Imprisonment

Last month, in an interview with El Tiempo newspaper in the 28th Trial Court of Caracas, Leopoldo showed remarkable clarity, despite being imprisoned and subject to solitary confinement:

"When I went to prison, one of the colonels treated me very kindly and said 'look, here in prison one can decide two things: to grow as a prisoner or to grow as a man,' and I decided the latter; I try to use my isolation and my loneliness to grow. I paint, learn how to play cuatro, read everything I can, write and do everything possible so that this jail does not become a frustration."

The article provides one of the most detailed accounts yet of the daily life of one of Latin America's most prominent political prisoners. For the English version of the article, click here.