Leopoldo Lopez’s preliminary hearing will take place on May 8. During the hearing, the state will present the evidence it claims to have against Lopez, including statements from witnesses. It was revealed today that out of the 76 witnesses that are expected to provide statements to the court that day, 54 are from the CICPC (Venezuelan CSI), 15 are from the prosecutor’s office, three are from the National Guard and four are civilians.
What is troubling about the numbers is that 90% of the witnesses are considered by the state to be victims. The four civilian witnesses were presented by the defence, and they are journalists who covered the demonstration on February 12, a result of which – the attack on the Public Ministry building – is being blamed on Lopez.
Lopez’s defence team is highlighting the fact that the prosecutor’s office and the CICPC have classified themselves as victims in the case, a disturbing reality given the fact that these two organizations are the ones responsible for investigating and providing evidence for the trial. Juan Carlos Gutierrez, a member of Lopez’s defence team, pointed out that:
92% of the evidence [gathered by] the investigation comes from the prosecutor’s office and the CICPC. This reveals a disproportion, a malicious animosity.
Some new details regarding the death of Eliecer Otaiza have emerged. Yesterday, it was revealed that a man had been arrested in connection to Otaiza’s death. Today, El Nacional is reporting that the man is a member of a gang called Los Menores [“The Minors”] which operates out of the barrio La Palomera and consists of about 10-15 individuals. The gang is apparently active in Baruta and El Hatillo.
According to the newspaper, Otaiza was on his way to Valencia on Friday night when he took a wrong turn and found himself in La Palomera. There, Otaiza was spotted by some members of Los Menores, who were attempting to enter a party “to which they had not been invited’. The gang members saw Otaiza’s car, believed that he was a police officer, and intercepted him.Otaiza was murdered and his body was thrown off a cliff, and the men then drove around the barrio in Otaiza’s car.
In an impressive display of reality substitution, Maduro had this to say today on the Otaiza case:
Otaiza’s murder was planned. Otaiza’s murder was executed so that it would appear as a false positive before public opinion as just another act of violence, just like false positives are planned in Colombia. Otaiza’s murder was encouraged from Miami by sectors that had media and economic control before in Venezuela.
Today, a journalistic campaign [financed] by the right and by written media [started] to complete Otaiza’s murder (…) In newspapers today, a group of journalists started to spread a version of Otaiza’s murder that fits perfectly with that which his murderers put forward.
I cannot silence truth before a people who deserve justice (…) For months they encouraged Otaiza’s murder and that of some leaders of the revolution, and they prepared it to hide the intentions of its intellectual authors.
Maduro offered no evidence for any of these claims.
Some pictures from today’s May Day events:
Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores:
An opposition march somewhere in Venezuela today:
A concentration on the Francisco de Miranda Avenue in Caracas:
A burning barricade in Altamira:
Maduro’s comments regarding his theory for Otaiza’s murder are disturbing. If Maduro has evidence that Otaiza’s murder was in fact some kind of political assassination orchestrated from Miami, he really needs to hand it over to the Public Ministry so that they may use that information in their investigation.
If Maduro does not have evidence to support his claims, then it is unimaginably irresponsible for him to voice his personal theories, especially given the fact that the investigation is still open. Maduro’s comments were at best a tragic case of ignorance or misguidedness, and at worst a deliberate attempt to use the death of a man to further his own skewed version of reality.