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Saturday, August 2, 2008

April 11 2002: Police Should be Cleared from Assassinate People

None of the expert tests conducted by investigators found that the bullets recovered from casualties came from the arms used by Metropolitan Police agents during the April 11th 2002 turmoil.

Metropolitan Police was, by that time, under control of the Big Mayor of Caracas, Alfredo Peña, opposed to Hugo Chavez.

The following is a report from El Universal:

In search of culprits

The destiny of 11 people involved in the case of April 11th should be defined as from August 4th. The Attorney General Office provided over 450 pieces of evidence, which according to defense attorneys, fail to prove the defendants' involvement

FRANCISCO OLIVARES

EL UNIVERSAL

The case of April 11th

On Monday, August 4th, the final part of a trial against three police commissioners and eight Metropolitan Police agents will begin. They are charged with killing and injuring citizens during the events of April 11th, 2002, when Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was temporarily ousted from office. It is the longest oral and public trial that has been recorded since the approval of the Criminal Code in Venezuela. It has been more than six years now since the events; five years since the trial against the police agents started and three years since the charges were first made against the police chiefs.

Political pressure, questionable queries, challenging of witnesses, government intervention are some of the issues that have accompanied this trial. At the end of the day, rather than political speculations in and out of court, the destiny of 11 defendants should be resolved, based on the produced evidence. This is a hard decision that will be stamped on the Venezuelan political history, contained in more than 600 pages of public hearings.

The three police chiefs

The judicial story of police commissioners Iván Simonovis, Lázaro Forero and Henry Vivas started on January 7th, 2005. The case prosecutor at that time and current Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz accused them of being "necessary accomplices" to the murder of two citizens who were shot in Baralt Avenue, downtown Caracas, on April 11th.

The second charge was accessory involvement in most serious injuries to the detriment of four individuals. That is, two fatalities and four casualties.

Later, on March 20th, 2006, the Attorney General Office extended the charges to include additional people injured and a third person dead. As a result, charges totaled three fatalities and 29 casualties.

Necessary accomplices

The term means that the crime would have not been perpetrated in the absence of the defendant's involvement. In this case, the eight Metropolitan Police agents are charged with being the perpetrators.

Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz substantiated the two charges as follows: "Approximately at 2:00 p.m., in the face of the prevailing situation in said Puente Llaguno, (the Metropolitan Police officers) started to shoot, as instructed on the radio by their superiors (...) including, among others, police commissioners Simonovis, Vivas and Forero. They shot at the people who where on site (...) and excessively used the firearms they held and that were provided by their superiors."

A case without evidence

In order to prove the above-mentioned cases, the Attorney General Office produced about 450 pieces of evidence. Defense attorneys proceeded to dismantle one after another. Only two were left -the testimonies of two witnesses: Gonzalo Sánchez Delgado, ex chief of Ruiz Pineda police section, and Emigdio Delgado, former Metropolitan Police operations chief. Both of them said during the hearing that the three police commissioners ordered them to shoot at "the Taliban" or pro-government demonstrators, and refused to contain a march that went off towards Miraflores presidential palace.

In the opinion of attorney José Luis Tamayo, the alleged evidence is a "hulking great, useless object" of inspections and testimonies that fail to substantiate the prosecutors' evidence. The investigation found, among others:

Expert tests and planimetry showed that the source of the shots at the three victims is not consistent with the point where the police agents were deployed.

None of the expert tests of the bullets recovered from the bodies of two out of the victims could be related to any of the firearms held at the Metropolitan Police or to the firearms that were allocated on that day to the police agents accused of killing the three people. Nor there was any link with the bullets recovered from the bodies of some of the 29 injured persons.

None of the eight police agents accused of being the perpetrators admitted to have given orders to shoot at demonstrators or acknowledged that they had shot at any of the victims.


folivares@eluniversal.com

Translated by Conchita Delgado


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