Caracas, August 13, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Former defense minister Raul Isaías Baduel was granted parole by a Venezuelan military tribunal yesterday after serving six years for corruption charges.
The retired general was arrested in 2009 and later sentenced to eight years imprisonment for diverting $3.9 million in public funds and abusing authority during his tenure as minister of defense between 2006 and 2007.
Following yesterday’s announcement, Baduel’s lawyer cited the “mediation and dedication” of chief Ombudsman Tarek William Saab as key in securing the ex-minister’s release.
A long time friend and ally of President Hugo Chavez from their days in the military academy, Baduel later turned against the late socialist leader after stepping down as defense minister, joining the opposition in vocally rejecting the 2007 constitutional referendum.
Baduel and the rightwing press have long dismissed the charges against him as politically motivated. However, Chavez maintained Baduel’s corruption predated the referendum, and claimed the former minister had joined the opposition in an attempt to make the impending charges appear politically related.
Victims of the Guarimba Slam Release of Daniel Ceballos
The release of Baduel closely follows a decision granting house arrest to ex-opposition mayor Daniel Ceballos, who awaits trial for his role in last year’s rightwing street mobilizations that resulted in the death of 43 people, the majority of whom passerby and security personnel.
The decision was rejected by the Committee of Victims of the Guarimba and Ongoing Coup, a human rights group seeking justice for the victims of rightwing violence in 2013 and 2014, who view house arrest as a prelude to the rightwing leader’s release.
“This precautionary measure represents a violation of our right to justice […], promoting impunity for the grave acts of political violence that our country experienced in 2013 and 2014,” the Committee declared in a public statement.
“We call on the Venezuelan state and the justice system to be firm in its will to carry out justice and sentence all of those involved in these regrettable events, including Daniel Ceballos.”