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Montevideo, October 3rd 2023 - 06:56 UTC



Venezuelan activists handed down 16-year jail sentences

Wednesday, August 2nd 2023 - 16:40 UTC
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The six activists were convicted of “conspiring” against President Maduro The six activists were convicted of “conspiring” against President Maduro

Venezuelan trade unionists and activists Reynaldo Cortés, Alfonzo Meléndez, Alcides Bracho, Néstor Astudillo, Gabriel Blanco, and Emilio Negrín were sentenced Tuesday to 16 years in jail for “conspiring” against President Nicolás Maduro, it was reported in Caracas. The defendants were arrested between July 4 and 7, 2022, while staging protests in demand of wage increases and improvements in working conditions.

The Coalition for Human Rights and Justice denounced that the labor leaders were all innocent and that the prosecution did not present sufficient “evidence” to sustain the accusation. The group also argued that the convictions were based on screenshots and messages written on Twitter. The six convicted are being held at the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Police in La Yaguara.

According to the newspaper Tal Cual, trade unionist Negrín and social and political activists Astudillo, Cortés, and Meléndez were apprehended by the Bolivarian National Police and the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), known for their “arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, illegal searches and acts of harassment.”

“The only detention that was in accordance with 'legality' was that of human rights defender Gabriel Blanco, thanks to the pressure exerted by dozens of neighbors of the humanitarian worker and to the role of civil society actors, who remained alert to the irregular actions of the DGCIM officials,” the newspaper pointed out.

The Unitary Platform, which brings together a good part of the opposition, rejected “this new violation of human rights” in a trial “plagued with procedural flaws to six social fighters who were at the forefront of the protests exercising their rights and rejecting the instructions issued by the National Budget Office during 2022.″

The NGO Acceso a la Justicia said on its Twitter account that Tuesday's sentences represented ”the intensification of political persecution in Venezuela.”

The Venezuelan Program of Education Action on Human Rights (Provea) called the conviction brutal and assured that it was an “arbitrary” decision taken in a judicial process where “the only witness of the complaint never appeared in a year and two months.”

Yorbelis Oropeza, the wife of one of the detainees, stressed in a video released Tuesday that the “Venezuelans who believe in justice, who believe in the truth, ... are going to continue fighting,”

“My husband and the social workers were punished simply for asking for a better quality of life,” Oropeza said.

Categories: Politics, Venezuela.

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