April 24, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)—Venezuela’s Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, filed a petition with the country’s Supreme Court last Tuesday, to allow her to prosecute the governor of the state of Guarico, Eduardo Manuitt, who has been accused of starting a fistfight against a Mayor.
Manuitt rejected the charge, saying that it was “absurd and disgusting” and suggested that the attorney general occupy herself with matters of greater importance.
Manuitt also said that even though his immunity is about to be revoked, he has not had an opportunity to hear exactly what the charges are against him. “According to the constitution all Venezuelans have the right to be notified of all charges they are being investigated for… I have not had the right to see anything I am being charged with,” said Manuitt.
The Mayor of the town of Zarzara, David Fares, accuses the governor of his own state of having seriously injured him in an altercation that took place last August 2007. The attack took place outside a mayors’ meeting at the Ministry of Finance in Caracas.
Manuitt and Fares accuse each other of being responsible for not having completed a water treatment plant in Zarzara.
Ortega Diaz explained that even though the investigation is not concluded into Fares’s charges, the constitution requires her to approach the Supreme Court to see if the investigation should proceed once the preliminary investigation is concluded. According to the constitution, all high-ranking government officials are immune from prosecution unless the Supreme Court rules that a trial against them has enough merit to proceed.
This is not the first time Manuitt has been accused of wrong-doing. Last year National Assembly member Iris Valera accused Manuitt of being in charge of a rogue police battalion in his state, which is committing extra-judicial executions of suspected criminals. According to the Venezuelan human rights group Provea, this group has been accused of 8 such executions in 2007 and of many more in previous years.
When asked about the status of these charges against Manuitt, Attorney General Ortega Diaz replied, “These charges are still being investigated.” She promised, though, that she will follow-up on these right away.
Alberto Müller Rojas, the Vice-President of Manuitt’s party, the recently formed United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), said that the party is fully in support of the Attorney General. “When there are accusations against a person we do not have automatic solidarity among the members. We are not a mafia, we are a political party,” said Müller Rojas.