"The Attorney General should investigate ex-officio what Aponte said"
Jurists attest to the validity of the ex-judge's affidavit
The written confession of Eladio Aponte Aponte, former magistrate at the Criminal Court, Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), suffices for the Attorney General Office to commence an investigation. In the document, the ex-judge avowed that, as instructed by President Hugo Chávez, he ordered several judges to convict "at whatever cost" three commissioners and eight agents of the Metropolitan Police (PM) for the events of April 2002.
In the opinion of Magaly Vásquez, a law professor with Andrés Bello Catholic University, and Jesús Ollarves, a former magistrate at the Caracas Court of Appeals, the writ, notarized and bearing an apostille from Costa Rican authorities, is good and valid.
"Such a confession would be helpful for an investigation and for the Attorney General Office to summon the judges (the parties involved: public prosecutor Haifa El Aissami and judges Marjorie Calderón, Fabiola Colmenares, Antonio Perillo and Francisco Coggiola) and magistrates (Deyanira Nieves, Héctor Coronado and retired judge Miriam Morandy) for them to give their account," said Vásquez, one of the drafters of the original Organic Code of Criminal Procedure (COPP).
The professor is positive that, since the charges put in jeopardy the transparency of a lawsuit, the Attorney General Office, headed by magistrate Luisa Ortega Díaz, ought to commence an ex-officio inquest, without any prior request.
By the same token, Ollarves pointed out, "any means to prove a fact is virtually accepted: public documents, private documents, attestations, photographs, etc. In this case, we are before testimonial evidence, and testimonies in investigations are substantial components."
Notwithstanding, both jurists clarified that the content of the ex-magistrate's confession may not be construed as true all of a sudden, yet should be corroborated.
"Aponte Aponte claims that he handed over the draft judgment of conviction to Judge Calderón in a USB flash drive. Well, there is the need for some information technology inquest in order to match the truthfulness of such statements," Vásquez contended.
A confession does not mean no guilty
The experts agreed on saying that the confession of Aponte Aponte, also the former Military Attorney General, neither exonerates nor releases him from appearing in court.
"A judge should have enough integrity and determination to resolve according to his/her conscience and resist any pressure. In politicizing justice, he violated the Constitution and the American Convention of Human Rights," Ollarves affirmed.
For her part, Vásquez thinks that, at best, Aponte Aponte could get a shorter sentence for cooperating with the judiciary.
Last, in the event of an investigation by the Attorney General Office to ascertain the truthfulness of the ex-magistrate's remarks and corroborate mistrial in the proceeding against the police commissioners and agents, then the doors would be open for the TSJ to review and make null and void the punishment meted out to them in 2009.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."