Santa Elena de Uairen, December 3rd, 2014. (venezuelanalysis.com)- The Venezuelan state prosecutor’s office announced today that former deputy Maria Corina Machado has been indicted for conspiracy. Meanwhile the lead attorney defending hardline opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez asserted today his belief that his client would be released this month, before Christmas Eve.
Machado, a lead public figure among the extreme opposition, arrived today in court to face charges for allegedly plotting to assassinate Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. The accusation was made after government intelligence services intercepted a message reportedly sent from Machado’s email account, in which she had allegedly written, “I believe the time has come to join forces, make the necessary calls, and obtain the financing to annihilate Maduro… and the rest will come falling down”.
Today the former legislator was formally charged with conspiracy, a crime which could land her in jail for 8 to 16 years if found guilty.
In a statement reported by Caracas newspaper Ultimas Noticias, Leopoldo Lopez’s lawyer Juan Carlos Gutierrez claimed that the judge presiding over Lopez’s case, Susana Barreiros, will pronounce the defendant free to go this Thursday “at the latest.”
Lopez has been imprisoned and facing trial for nine months, though Gutierrez did not give any clues as to the conditions under which he may be released.
The hardline opposition leader and founder of rightwing party Popular Will was publicly accused of inciting violent anti-government protests which led to 43 deaths and over a hundred gravely wounded from February to June this year.
On two occasions since August a United Nations organization has “strongly recommended” Lopez’s immediate release, after wife Lilian Tintori appealed to international commissions.
Tintori now claims to possess a new document sent by the UN Committee Against Torture which includes a third call for Lopez’s freedom. According to Tintori, this request will prove “binding” for the Venezuelan government.
Judge Barreiros has already responded to other UN statements, affirming that the justice system is not bound to take the organizations’ suggestions into account.
No official statement has been released alluding to the opposition leader’s release.
On February 12th, after a meeting called by Lopez and other opposition leaders, a group of militants attacked the office and home of public functionaries and vehicles of the national detective force (CICPC). The event lead to three deaths and arguably gave rise to the militant street action denominated #LaSalida (the exit), drawing on a phrase often used by Lopez and indicating the ultimate goal of removing Maduro from office.
Lopez turned himself in to authorities on February 18th.
According to Gutierrez, 16 public servants linked to the 12 Feb event will testify tomorrow in court.