CARACAS, Wednesday December 21, 2005 | Update
Mezerhane (left) accompanied by local TV network Globovisión director Alberto Federico Ravell (right) when he left the headquarters of the Directorate for Intelligence, Security and Prevention (Photo: Gil Montaño)
JUAN FRANCISCO ALONSO
LEJANDRA M. HERNANDEZ F.
Businessman Nelson Mezerhane is not spending Christmas in the cells of the Directorate for Intelligence, Security and Prevention (Disip), where he was in custody since November 14, as the six crime control court late Tuesday ordered his release pending trial, thus dismissing any risk of flight or obstruction of justice.
Defense lawyers Vicente Puppio and Magali Vázquez explained that Mezerhane is banned from leaving Venezuela, and has to appear in court on a periodical basis. He was released on bail.
They added that the decision was made following their action seeking a revision of a previous ruling. The six crime control court had ordered detention of Mezerhane, one of the four individuals the Attorney General's Office accused of masterminding the murder of public prosecutor Danilo Anderson, who was killed on November 18, 2004 when his SUV was blown in a powerful explosion.
In their action, defense lawyers argued that the testimony provided by Giovanni Vásquez de Armas, the key witness of the prosecution, was invalid. Vásquez de Armas ensured he attended a number of meetings where the bomb attack against Anderson was planned and that Mezerhane was also present. The prosecution based on Vásquez de Armas' testimony to seek Mezerhane's detention.
Mezerhane's legal counsels explained that the court order is also valid for the other two persons who were in custody in connection with the same event, namely retired general Eugenio Añez and Salvador Romaní, Jr. The order is also valid for Fernando Moreno Palmar, who was arrested in northwestern Zulia state late on November and was accused of taking part in the plot to kill Anderson. According to sources close to the investigations, his testimony would be useful to demonstrate involvement of general Jaime Escalante in this case.
"I have nothing to be afraid of"
Mezerhane was released past 8:00 p.m. When he left the headquarters of Disip, accompanied by Alberto Federico Ravell, director of local TV network Globovisión, he thanked the media, his relatives and friends for their support. He also thanked Disip authorities who, he said, treated him in a "kind, polite and respectful" way.
Mezerhane said he decided to face claims that he was involved in Anderson's murder -and he was subsequently put in custody- because he wanted to defend "the family honor, the honor of my name, and because I do respect my friends and so many people who work with me. I am leaving with that same spirit." He added that the case is "taking the path to the truth."
"We are going to demonstrate that things like should not happen in our country. I have nothing to be afraid of."
Translated by Maryflor Suárez R.
02:57 PM. HEAVY RAINS. Venezuelan Executive Vice-President Elias Jaua reported that the government is designing plans to support farmers, cattlemen and peasants of the state of Mérida who have been hit by heavy rains that have caused crop losses.