CARACAS, Wednesday March 07, 2012 | Update
Human Rights

UN Working Group calls for Judge Afiuni's release

The Geneva-based United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention described María Lourdes Afiuni s detention as "retaliation"

Afiuni requires a biopsy to rule out cancer (File photo)
Wednesday March 07, 2012  05:20 PM

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asked Venezuela to release Judge María Lourdes Afiuni Mora, in a speech at the UN Human Rights Council, which closed its sessions on Wednesday in Geneva.

"We are calling for Afiuni's release, in light of what we deem an act of retaliation against her for having ordered the release of a person (Venezuelan banker Eligio Cedeño) based on a recommendation made by the Working Group," said Mads Andenas, one of the five independent experts comprising the group, AFP reported.

Afiuni "remains in detention (since) 26 months ago. She was arrested in 2009 immediately after ordering the release pending trial of a person whose detention was deemed arbitrary by the Working Group. In December 2011, her detention was extended for two years," Andenas explained.

The Venezuelan delegation accused the Working Group of "distorting their own reports to show that the former justice allegedly fell victim to retaliation after she founded her dishonorable actions on an opinion issued by said group."

Afiuni Mora, 48, is under house arrest in Caracas and could be sentenced to 30 years in prison. According to UN sources, she has cancer.

The judge expects President Hugo Chávez to grant her a pardon during the current election year in Venezuela, her brother Nelson Afiuni declared.

However, on Wednesday at the UN, Venezuela failed to send a clear signal that it will release Afiuni. The Venezuelan delegation stressed that Afiuni is "prosecuted for a common crime for her direct involvement in the flight of the former banker." Following his release, Cedeño fled to the United States.

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