MEDIA RELEASE OCTOBER 29, 2014
VENEZUELAN COURT AGAIN DELAYS RESPONSE TO U.N. RULING REQUIRING LEOPOLDO LÓPEZ RELEASE
ARBITRARY PUNISHMENTS CONTINUE
Caracas – Today, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López denounced the Venezuelan government for its continued failure to respond to a United Nations finding that he is being detained arbitrarily and must be released. A scheduled court hearing yesterday, during which Judge Susana Barreiros was required to respond to the U.N. finding, was unexpectedly postponed until November 4.
In a handwritten note released by his defense team, López stated: “On 10/8/2014, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions] issued a decision in which they classified my detention as arbitrary and asked for my immediate release. It has been 20 days and the court has not released a response. … I have therefore made the decision today to not attend the trial until my procedural and constitutional right of receiving a response to the decision of a constitutional standing and obligatory compliance, issued by the [UN High Commissioner on Human Rights], is respected.”
Meanwhile, López’s family criticized the Government of Venezuela for further arbitrary punishments that it has imposed on him. “I traveled to Ramo Verde prison on Saturday and was told that Leopoldo wouldn’t be allowed visitors for 15 days” said Lilian Tintori, his wife. “It is especially devastating for my children when the Government punishes our speaking out by denying him the ability to see us,” she added. This is the fifth arbitrary 15-day denial of access during López’s last eight months in prison. A photo of Lilian and her children being denied entry to Ramo Verde is attached below.
On October 9, the López defense team released an opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention finding him to be held in violation of international law. While the court publicly promised it would respond, it has now been inexplicably closed for two weeks. In protest of the failure of the courts to respond, López, Ceballos, and other political prisoners announced a peaceful protest, which entails banging on the cell bars at 8 pm every evening. In addition, López was photographed holding up a sign outside his window saying “UN = Freedom For Political Prisoners.” The photograph is also attached below.
In response to these collective actions, Prison Director Colonel Homero Miranda told López that he will be transferred to a new prison shortly – despite the fact no court has issued a ruling to order the transfer, which is required under Venezuelan Law. Tintori remarked “The only transfer that should occur is the transfer to the streets with his people, the people of Venezuela because he is innocent.”
The trial is now delayed until November 4.
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