Operation Jericho Airforce Officials Sentenced to 4-8 Years

Eight Venezuelan military officials charged with involvement in last year’s infamous “Operation Jericho” plot against President Nicolas Maduro have been sentenced by a military court to between four and eight years in prison.

By Rachael Boothroyd
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Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladmir Padrino Lopez announces the sentencing of 8 airforce officials implicated in last year's "Operation Jericho". (Credit: Noticias 24)
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladmir Padrino Lopez announces the sentencing of 8 airforce officials implicated in last year's "Operation Jericho". (Credit: Noticias 24)

Caracas, May 11th 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Eight Venezuelan military officials charged with involvement in last year’s infamous “Operation Jericho” plot against President Nicolas Maduro have been sentenced by a military court to between four and eight years in prison. 

 The men were amongst 30 mostly airforce officials arrested in March and April 2014 in connection with a plan to sow rebellion in the country’s armed forces and launch a coup against the current socialist administration of Nicolas Maduro. The plot is reported to have been planned throughout a two year period but was dramatically foiled by Venezuelan authorities in March 2014 following a series of tip offs from other members of the armed forces.  

“The homeland is delivering justice! Military Tribunals sentence 8 officials from “Operation Jericho” for inciting rebelling and violating military decorum”, confirmed Defence Minister, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, on his Twitter account.

Although Lopez did not give details on the length of the sentences handed down to the officials, according to press reports the men received between four to eight years each. 

The jailed officials include Andres Thomas Martinez, the great grandson of Venezuelan twentieth century military dictator, Juan Vicente Gomez, who ruled Venezuela from 1908 until his death in 1935, and former Vice-minister for Defence Education, General Oswaldo Hernández. They are all reported to have links to the United States government, as well as to prominent members of Venezuela’s rightwing opposition, including Member of Parliament for the Justice First party, Julio Borges, who was named in a confession by Hernandez. 

The sentencing of the men follows the jailing of a ninth airforce official involved in the plot, Captain Acacio Moreno Mora, who was handed a prison term of 3 years and 11 months after pleading guilty on the first day of the high profile trial in February this year.

2014’s “Operation Jericho” is just one of several attempts to oust the Bolivarian government over the last 15 years, including a partially successful coup in 2002 which saw then-president, Hugo Chavez, forcefully deposed from office for 47 hours before he was returned by a popular rebellion.

Earlier this year, another plot by airforce officials against the government was also discovered by Venezuelan authorities. Dubbed “the Blue Coup,” the plan included an attempt to assassinate the president, as well as the bombing of a series of “strategic” targets in the capital city using a Toucan warplane. 

The Blue Coup is reported to be an offshoot of last year’s Operation Jericho, with those involved having allegedly planned to release pre-recorded footage of Operacion Jericho’s General Hernandez announcing the overthrow of the Maduro government via a military uprising in order to launch the Blue Coup.

Several opposition politicians such as Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma have also been linked to the Blue Coup attempt. All three signed and released a “Call for a National Transition Agreement” just twenty-four hours before the Blue Coup was scheduled to take place. 

The document calls on Venezuelans to back their initiative to depose the Maduro administration and install an interim de-facto government. 

Both Lopez and Ledezma are currently behind bars and awaiting trial due to their alleged involvement in the opposition street violence which erupted in 2014. Ledezma in particular is being tried for his links to paramilitary groups connected to the violence. 

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