Venezuela Police Finds New Leads in Assassination Investigation

A raid of an apartment belonging to the parents of one of the people suspected of participating in the assassination of Danilo Anderson last November, turned up a very large arms cache. Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez said that the investigation into the case is still advancing.

Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez providing details of the Anderson investigation to the press.
Credit: VTV

Caracas, Venezuela, March 8, 2005—The investigation into the assassination of State Prosecutor Danilo Anderson has made progress, Attorney General Isaías Rodríguez said on Tuesday.  Rodriguez noted the investigation had discovered “new elements,” in the search for the planners of the car-bomb assassination that killed Anderson last November.

Anderson had been in charge of the Public Prosecutor’s most politically charged cases, including an investigation of over 400 people linked to the coup that briefly overturned the elected government of President Hugo Chávez in April, 2002.  On November 18, 2004, Anderson’s car exploded, killing the state prosecutor instantly.  The high-profile case against key coup supporters was widely assumed to be the reason Anderson was targeted.  Anderson reportedly received several death threats shortly before his assassination.

Since November, Venezuelan police have captured a number of suspects they accuse of having carried out the crime.  On Tuesday, two of these suspects, brothers Otoniel and Rolando Guevara, both former police officers, made their first appearance in court.  Two other suspects died in separate incidents when police tried to arrest them.  One of these, Antonio López Castillo, a lawyer and explosives expert, opened fire on the police when they tried to arrest him, killing one before he himself was killed.  López’s death led police to his parents’ house, where they discovered a massive arms cache, replete with firearms, explosive manuals from Central Intelligence Agency courses, and various kinds of explosives including C4, a highly-explosive material that police believe was used in the bomb that killed Anderson.

Late Monday night, police raided another apartment belonging to López’s parents, in the coastal state of Vargas, just north of the Venezuelan capital Caracas.  Another large arms cache was discovered there, this time including anti-tank mines, police uniforms from the wealthy Caracas municipality of Chacao, and enough C4 to “blow-up the whole country,” according to Attorney General Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, referring to the variety and quantity of weapons and to the police uniforms found at the scene, noted, “this confirms that Antonio López was participating in something that goes far beyond the assassination of Anderson.”

According to police officials, López and all three Guevaras were implicated in the bombings of the Colombian and Spanish embassies in Caracas in 2003, though they were not charged.

The Guevaras were also implicated in hiding former Peruvian spy chief Vladimir Montesinos, who were wanted by Interpol for crimes committed during the presidency of Alberto Fujimori.  Venezuelan police eventually arrested Montesinos, uncovering evidence linking the Guevaras to the case.

Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Rodriguez noted that the investigation had uncovered “new elements,” bringing them closer to the masterminds behind the crime, but he declined to elaborate, citing the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation.

Despite Anderson’s death, the investigation against over 400 people who signed the “Carmona Decree,”—the document disbanding and nullifying Venezuela’s Supreme Court, the National Assembly, and the Constitution during the April 2002 coup—is moving ahead.  Public prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz has taken over most of Anderson’s cases, including the investigation of the April coup.

Ex-President of the Supreme Court Cecilia Sosa was charged yesterday for conspiracy related to the Carmona-coup.