Venezuelan Legislator Says Anderson Murder Suspect Tried to Bribe Judge

Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela's National Assembly, said that Ravell, the director of one of the main oppositional TV stations, participated in a meeting with one of the accused in the Anderson murder, to plan a $3 million bribe for the judge in the case. Ravell denied such a meeting ever took place.

Caracas, Venezuela, November 18, 2005—The president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Nicolas Maduro, accused one of the suspects in the Danilo Anderson murder case and the director of the oppositional news station Globovision of trying to bribe a judge in the case. Maduro made the accusation last Thursday, saying that Nelson Mezerhane, who is a partner in Globovision and is accused of the murder, and Federico Ravell, the station’s director, offered $3 million to the judge presiding over Mezerhane’s case.

Shortly after Maduro made the accusation, Ravell appeared on Globovision, denying that he had a meeting with Mezerhane the day that Maduro indicated, on Monday, November 14, since Mezerhane had already turned himself in to the police. Maduro later backtracked, indicating that the meeting might have taken place a few days earlier or only with representatives of Mezerhane.

Two weeks ago, Venezuela’s Attorney General, Isaias Rodriguez, issued arrest warrants for Nelson Mezerhane, a prominent oppositional businessman, and three others, the journalist Patricia Poleo, a retired General, Eugenio Añez Núñez, and Salvador Romani, an anti-Castro militant, for having masterminded last year’s assassination of state prosecutor Danilo Anderson. Anderson had been investigating a number of highly charged political cases involving the opposition, such as the signers of the April 2002 coup decree. He was killed by a car bomb on November 18, 2004.

Maduro made the accusation about the attempted bribe during a press conference, saying that the meeting to discuss the bribe took place in the home of Tobias Carrero, another wealthy oppositional businessman. Maduro said he got the information from, “direct sources that were involved and were in some ways connected with these persons.” He would not say exactly who they were.

Federico Ravel responded to Maduro’s accusation immediately, saying that he regularly participates in meetings and would continue to do so, but denied that he was in a meeting with Mezerhane on the Monday in question, as Mezerhane was already in custody on that day. Ravell also suggested that he has documents that incriminate Chavez supporters. These documents he, “could bring to President Chavez.”

Attorney General Rodriguez, reacting to Maduro’s accusations, said that his office would immediately investigate them. “We have to have an investigation to see if these acts occurred, if the meeting Maduro is referring to took place, who participated, and to interview each one.” If such a meeting did take place, it would be a serious offense, said Rodriguez.