Defense lawyers request release of Venezuelan diplomat
The defense counsel of Dwight Sagaray, former first secretary of the Venezuelan embassy to Kenya, Kenyan Stephen Ligunya, reminded Judge Nicholas Ombija that his client has been detained since July 28, and underscored his "presumption of innocence, until proven guilty"
Sagaray attended a hearing on Thursday before the High Court of Nairobi, after being formally charged last August 6 with the murder of Fonseca, who was found strangled last July 27 in her residence at Venezuela's Embassy to Kenya, Efe reported. The defendant did not testify and just listened to the allegations presented by the Office of the Public Prosecutor and the defense.
Kenyan Stephen Ligunya, Saragay's defense counsel, reminded Judge Nicholas Ombija that his client has been detained since July 28 and underscored his "presumption of innocence, until proven guilty."
Ligunya claims that Saragay had "the constitutional right to be released on bail," because "he has been cooperating with the police and has handed over his passport," therefore, "there is no risk of flight."
Nevertheless, prosecutor Tabitha Ouya dismissed the defense's argument, and claimed that the defendant holds "a top position as first secretary" of the Venezuelan embassy, so, if he is released, "he might interfere with the testimony of key witness (such as embassy employees) who were under his command."
However, Ligunya highlighted that his client "does not hold that position anymore" and added that "none of the 25 witness (of the case) have reported such interference."
The judge adjourned his decision regarding the application for release on bail until next October 11. Héctor Griffin, one of the defense lawyers, regretted this decision. "We are going to try to overturn all of this," he said. The lawyer reckons that Saragay is protected under the Vienna Convention, since "he was arrested while having diplomatic immunity."
According to Griffin, Sagaray had his diplomatic immunity removed by Venezuelan officials in just "24 hours," and the Vienna Convention establishes a "reasonable period of time" for the application of this measure.
"Why did the Hugo Chávez's government decide so quickly to remove diplomatic immunity, without any previous knowledge about the case?" Griffin asked as he highlighted that Sagaray is at risk of being sentenced to life imprisonment, or even death penalty, if he is found guilty.
Olga Fonseca arrived in Kenya on July 15 to replace former ambassador Gerardo Carrillo-Silva, who left his post suddenly after facing allegations of sexual harassment from embassy workers.
According to Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation, the employees who had accused Carrillo Silva of harassment said that Fonseca tried to pressure them to withdraw their accusations and were allegedly fired when they refused to do so.
Some Kenyan newspapers such as Daily Nation, Standard Digital, The Star and Daily Post reported last August that the police had been carrying out an inquire into the use of diplomatic bags and vehicles belonging to the Venezuelan embassy in Kenya for drug trafficking. These media even suggested that this could have been the motive for Fonseca's murder, since apparently she was trying to stop such irregularities.
Translated by Andreína Trujillo
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."