Caracas, June 26th 2016 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Chief Prosecutor of Venezuela’s Public Ministry Luisa Ortega announced Sunday that body’s Truth and Justice Commission had registered a total of 11,043 cases of political disappearances, torture and assassination between 1958 and 1998, during Venezuela’s Fourth Republic. Ortega released the information on former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defense Jose Rangel Vicente’s program Jose Vicente Hoy.
Ortega confirmed that the cases were found as a result of the commission’s research into declassified files. The Truth and Justice Commission was created in February 2013 following the 2012 approval of the Law to Sanction Crimes, Disappearances, Torture and Other Human Rights Violations for Political Reasons during the Period of 1958-1998.
Additionally, she explained that the archives were sourced from militarily tribunals and other state institutions and are cases where the state had not previously carried out any investigation.
“All the investigations that they started back then were closed because they declared that the inquiry had ended because there was nothing to investigate and that there were no crimes [committed]”, explained Ortega.
“The state’s political approach was sustained, systematic and planned, all of it was a plan to attack political dissidence,” she emphasized.
Furthermore, Ortega noted the differences between the state’s conduct during the Fourth Republic and today, and emphasized its unwillingness to pursue these cases in the past.
For example, Ortega detailed the work between January and May 2016 that the Public Ministry has taken on regarding human rights. She confirmed that the body had charged 229 government officials with various crimes, while 15 have been processed for human rights violations.
Ortega also expressed that prior to the Bolivarian Revolution in 1998, the Public Ministry was confronted with an avalanche of impunity regarding disappearances, which she referred to as “an abysmal difference”.
“Today, regarding human rights violations, we are going to investigate. This is the difference today, and it doesn’t matter who committed the violation, they will be sanctioned,” Ortega affirmed.
In addition, Ortega said that the Public Ministry had processed 684 out of 714 cases of corruption. Three hundred and twenty four were charged confessing to their crimes, 64 were found guilty on trial and 400 are on probation. Ortega also highlighted that the government looked closely into Cencoex (National Center of Foreign Commerce) where 25 people have been detained, 199 individuals accused and 208 charged after they confessed.
Moreover, Ortega informed that the government has also taken up the task of investigating international cases, such as those linked to the Panama Papers. For the first time Venezuela and Panama’s public ministries are working together to investigate joint cases.
“We have carried out a lot of technical investigation that have grouped together elements [for us] that compromise a lot of people that are being summoned now and one of them is on probation,” she said mentioning 23 cases of seized real estate property due to corruption charges.
The Public Ministry has also requested probation for two individuals tied to the money laundering Andorra corruption case, Mervis Villalobos and Javier Alvarado. Billions of dollars were laundered from Venezuela to Spanish, Swiss and Andorran banks.