Diego Arria files complaint against President Chávez at The Hague
Opposition presidential pre-candidate Diego Arria said that the lawsuit seeks to protect Venezuelans from crimes which are "predictable" due to Venezuela s situation. He expects a prompt ruling
A complaint on crimes against humanity filed on Monday before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Netherlands, accuses Hugo Chávez and some of his top aides, rather than the Venezuelan government or him as President, said on Monday Diego Arria, a former Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations and a pre-candidate to opposition presidential primary elections.
"It is a complaint to defend the rights of thousands and thousands of victims of Hugo Chávez. This complaint is neither against the Venezuelan president's office as an institution nor against Chávez as Head of State. It is intended to determine the criminal and personal liability of Hugo Chávez and some of his top aides for crimes against humanity," he said.
Arria stressed that the complaint requires a prompt ruling, in order to prevent new crimes that are foreseeable in the light of Venezuelan circumstances. "I intend to prevent situations similar to those occurred in countries such as Ivory Coast when his President (Laurent Gbagbo) refused to step down."
"We are not accusing Hugo Chávez, because that pertains to the prosecutor and the International Criminal Court (ICC). We have come here to defend the rights of thousands and thousands of Venezuelan victims," the independent presidential hopeful said. He added that some of the crimes for which he produced evidence are "murder, forced displacement and violation of property."
Arria said, in an interview with private TV news network Globovisión, that the documents were prepared more than one year ago in order to report on a widespread government policy aimed at violating human rights.
The former Venezuelan ambassador to the UN said that he cannot disclose the names of those involved in specific complaints until the prosecutor determines that an investigation will be opened. "We cannot even disclose the names of the attorneys-at-law who participated in this process, as we fear retaliation."
Arria expects a prompt ruling on the allegations he made. He said that the complaint will be examined by an ICC preliminary court, where prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo will decide whether or not to uphold the allegations.
The opposition leader recalled he worked in international cases such as Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda in which the international community was slow to act and "the death toll was huge," Arria said.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brazil on March 13 to demand the ouster of embattled President Dilma Rousseff, carrying banners expressing anger at bribery scandals and economic woes. A banner read "We don't want a new Venezuela in Brazil."