Tarek William Saab: There are Enough Reasons to Jail Guaidó

The Public Ministry has reason to imprison the deputy of the National Assembly (AN) in contempt of court, Juan Guaidó, said the Attorney General of the Republic, Tarek William Saab. Interviewed by the Spanish newspaper Público on whether there are reasons to incarcerate the deputy in contempt, the prosecutor replied: “Of course there are reasons and we are investigating them.”

In the interview, the prosecutor said that the parliamentarian is being investigated for inciting violent acts after executing the first attack on the National Electric System (SEN), on March 7, and for his intention to overthrow the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, through a coordinated attack with the United States Government.

“When the first sabotage event took place, Guaidó, two hours later , via social networks, incited looting. He said that, without making apology for crime -but he was already doing it-, the population could practically violate private property in the face of the deficiencies that were going on. And that happened in several places in the country”, he recalled.

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When asked if there are reasons to jail the right-wing leader, he replied: “Of course there are reasons and we are investigating them, but you can not tell a journalist the actions planned in the terms and times of the development of the investigation.”

He recalled that the Comptroller General of the Republic had banned Guaidó to hold public office for 15 years.

On the other hand, Saab stressed that the act of self-proclamation as president in charge of the Republic led by Juan Guaidó on January 23 in the Juan Pablo II plaza in Chacao, Miranda state, has lost its effect in international media.

“The act that he made has already lost all kinds of effect for the transnational propaganda apparatus, they do not even call him president in charge, but self-proclaimed, opposition leader or deputy,” he said, adding that the deputy has left only the protests and actions outside the law, in which he is also failing.

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“Their calls for demonstrations are not working either. I see him [a Guaidó] as a bore in pain although some countries give him the red carpet for his conspiracy, “said the prosecutor.

“There are reasons for Guaidó to go to jail”
Author: Jairo Vargas for Publico

Tarek William Saab (El Tigre, Venezuela, 1962) is not a general attorney general. He is a lawyer specialized in human rights, a poet with eleven published books, a personal friend of Hugo Chávez and a defense lawyer of the current president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and his wife, during their years of political activism, in the 90s, when they were detained by the General Sectoral Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP), the current SEBIN. He was also part of the group of Chavez defense lawyers after his attempted coup in 1992 to overthrow President Carlos Andrés Pérez, for whom he was in prison until he was pardoned in 1996 by President Rafael Caldera.

Saab receives “Publico” in his office of the Public Ministry, in Caracas, almost three hours after the agreed appointment. He arrives in sports clothes because he has the habit of training almost daily, as his huge and muscular arms prove, on which several tattoos are scattered, some up to his neck. He assumed the post of Prosecutor General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in 2017, when he was appointed by the recently elected National Constituent Assembly, where there are only Chavista deputies as no opposition representatives stood for election. Before that, he was Ombudsman since 2014, and governor of the Anzoátegui State between 2004 and 2012,

The Attorney General does not wait for the questions, wants to make it clear before anything that “there has been an open hostility against Venezuelan democracy since the Constitution of ’99 by the various Spanish Governments.” That “the imprint was left by José María Aznar, that at the beginning had a correct relationship with Hugo Chávez, but at the time of the coup d’état of 2002 against the president, Aznar and [George] Bush were the only ones on a global scale that gave recognition to the dictates of Carmona Estanga [fleeting president during the hours that Chavez was imprisoned after the attempted coup]. From then on, all the governments of Spain have been openly enemies of Venezuelan democracy, from Rajoy to Pedro Sánchez “, insists Saab, who makes clear his intention to “Spanish-ize the interview a bit” and accuses Spain of “not collaborating judicially in cases of corruption in Venezuela” and to “allow corrupt Venezuelan criminals to walk free in Spain”, such as Claudia Patricia Díaz, known as Chávez’s nurse, former treasurer of Venezuela and executive secretary of the Fund for National Development (Fonden). She and her husband, the ex-military Adrián Velásquez, are wanted by the Venezuelan Public Prosecutor’s Office, investigated for their alleged participation in crimes that amount, according to the Spanish Penal Code, to misappropriation of public funds, illicit association and money laundering. “They have not been handed over to Venezuelan justice despite petitions because they argue that their constitutional and human rights may be violated,” laments Saab, who lists another long list of alleged Venezuelan fugitives who have “safely stolen 1.4 billion dollars and calculates that, since 2006, there can be more than 4,200 million laundered”. The Attorney General complains that “these requests have not even been answered yet”.  After the initial argument, that he prefers to call a preamble, the questions may begin.

How is the criminal investigation proceeding on the recent blackouts in the country? Six detainees were announced.
There is an investigation by the Public Ministry with three designated prosecutors, but there are no detainees. Finally, those six detainees we talked about are linked to the smuggling of gold.

There have been two regrettable events. One can be classified as sabotage via the “cyberwar”. The second one is much more grotesque: with a long gunshot they destroyed an electric station.

Is there evidence that clearly points to sabotage?
Forbes magazine recognizes that the version of remote sabotage is possible, even though it was soon said that it was impossible.

But that is not proof of anything.
No, but the first time that hypothesis was formulated it was said to be false. That line of investigation gains force, that of a sabotage induced by the USA. In the second case, as collected in the field, a fire burned one of the main stations of the El Guri hydroelectric power station. It’s unfortunate that these situations happen right now, it’s very strange. Not even during the great drought has such a situation occurred, and it happens right now, when Venezuela is experiencing a particular situation of siege on the part of the US, which recognizes someone not elected as president.

Why is Juan Guaidó being investigated for these “sabotage”?
When the first sabotage event occurred, Guaidó, two hours later , via social networks, incited looting. He said that, without making apology for crime -but he was already doing it-, the population could practically violate private property in the face of the deficiencies that were going on. And that happened in several places in the country. He is investigated for that, in addition to his intention to usurp power.

Do you think that Guaidó should be in prison right now?
When one has the ownership of the criminal action one can not talk about times, especially when there is an investigation. The Comptroller General of the Republic, based on these investigations, has disqualified him from holding public office for 15 years. It is sub judice. This is the first world case in which someone not elected proclaims himself president in a public square showing a sheet of paper, the previous times have been preceded by a military coup.

On this occasion it has been an attempt to overthrow a government legitimately constituted by a subject through a coordinated attack with the Government of Donald Trump, which hates the people of Venezuela. The buffoonish act that he did has already lost all kind of effect for the transnational propaganda apparatus, they do not even call him president in charge, but self-proclaimed, opposition leader or deputy.

That reckless move has had no effect on the terms of time they imagined. That plan has been defeated, only the protests and actions remain outside the law, but their calls for demonstrations are not working either. I see him [Guaidó] as a bore in pain although some countries do the red carpet to his conspiracy.

So, are there reasons to imprison Guaidó?
Of course there are reasons and we are investigating them, but you can not tell a journalist the actions planned in the terms and times of the development of the investigation.

Are there political prisoners in Venezuela?
I would say that there are militants and leaders of anti-government political parties deprived of liberty for conspiracy actions, for burning public property, some for murders they have committed, unfortunate cases in 2014, even in 2002, when Chávez was deposed by a group of policemen They participated in murders prior to the coup d’état. In Venezuela there are political activists prosecuted for having committed common crimes.

You speak of common crimes, but many are imprisoned in non common crime places, do not you think that translates the feeling that they are special prisoners?

They are in prisons where their relatives and their lawyers can visit them, in police stations, some in house arrest. Do you want them to go to a Nazi concentration camp?

I speak of Helicoide, the headquarters of intelligence services, where torture has been reported.

The Helicoide is a police station where there are prisoners, common criminals, people who have stolen, robbed …

Can you understand that this belief about political prisoners has spread?
What I can say is that between December 2017 and April 2018, 350 citizens linked to violent demonstrations in 2014 and 2017 have been released. It has been done through the Justice, Peace, Truth and Reconciliation Commission. That has to be known. People who achieved these freedoms through the justice system of Venezuela with a commission created for it and announced by Maduro. It was a promise that he fulfilled. It can not be said that this Government has not made attempts to pacify the situation.

In 2017, Venezuela began to legislate against hate crimes, what happened at that time?
The violent escalation was terrible between May, June and July of 2017. I was then the Ombudsman and I was the one who introduced in the national debate that there were cases of persecution of militants linked to the government party or people accused of being so. People who were being lynched, burned alive, stoned and beaten to death. There is a symbolic case, that of Orlando Figuera, but there is more. In the Lara state there were seven cases. There is a working group at the UN that typifies these crimes as hate crimes, when they are persecuted or attacked because of the political, ideological, religious belief, sexual identity, skin color.

This is a scandal and has to be reviewed, because some influencers have also collaborated , living outside of Venezuela, calling for the killing of people linked to the government’s party through social networks. That is serious, they are features of Nazism, of fascism. You can not go back to the stage of Hitler or Franco, so these people will not be judged for injuries or homicide, but there is an aggravating factor of hatred.

There were more than a hundred dead in the last opposition ‘guarimbas’ against the government, are there any convictions?
There are open cases and formal accusations so that they end in a final sentence. As much of agents of the security forces as of armed opposition civilians that damaged people or public property.

Are there concrete figures of those charged for this?
I prefer not to give exact data at the moment. There are dozens of detainees. Almost all accused and prosecuted. The great majority have already been accused by the Public Ministry. The final judgment has not happened for the competent courts to issue a final veredict.

Are not these procedural times too long?
I believe that this year we will have final sentences. Not only for those actions, but also for something you have not asked about, the assassination attempt with drone against the President of the Republic. It was said to be a lie, but CNN has said it was real. Those involved are already awaiting sentencing and many have already declared and confessed their guilt.

Your arrival to the position was preceded by the dismissal of Luisa Ortega after ten years at the head of the Public Ministry, what is your opinion of it?
I did not receive a Public Ministry, I received a corruption cartel, a mafia that she led with her husband along with other prosecutors and assistants. They charged in dollars for any kind of legal diligence that someone had to perform. Today she lives with all the luxuries guarded by Colombian paramilitaries. During my term there are 42 prosecutors deprived of liberty for crimes of corruption, in only one year and a half. It seems that they did not prosecute because money consumes them.

It is striking that, during her tenure, Ortega enjoyed the maximum confidence of the Government and is now fleeing the country.
She said she was going to raise the Chavismo flag and now she has said that Chávez has destroyed Venezuela. She is someone without ethics or morals, she arrived there with the support of Chavez and now denigrates him. I do not want to talk about this person anymore because it is a disgrace. Her management was to dismiss cases of drug traffickers, investigate suspected corruption and then extort them … In a year and a half we have given a good turn to the Public Ministry. For example, in corruption, more than one hundred (high ranked) state officials and 40 businessmen have been detained, that had not been seen in any previous era. No prosecutor had done it.

That perhaps speaks well of its management, but rather badly of the institutions of the State in recent times, do not you think?
I talk about what I have done. This institution was at the service of thieves, corrupt and drug traffickers. But not now, but from the 70s and 80s.

The former prosecutor argued that the separation of powers had ended in Venezuela with the Constituent Assembly. Is there separation of powers?
Of course there is. There are officials who have been ministers and deputy ministers of the Government who are accused or imprisoned today, high-ranking officials of PDVSA, the military and police who have committed crimes of human rights violations that are being prosecuted. But our case is different from Spain, for example, where there is a monarchy. What separation of powers can there be in a country where the first figure is a king? So you can not give lessons of democracy to Venezuelans. If we talk about separation of powers, Venezuela will have flaws and mistakes, but we move forward, we are in permanent transformation.

What is your opinion on the conclusions of the visit of the UN human rights committee?
They came, met with us, we treated them politely and gave them the information they asked for.

The words of Michelle Bachelet were not exactly good on this matter.
She should come here personally to talk with all the authorities, to know and hear all the bells and not wait for written reports from technicians or media. We received her commission, but her visit has no date. The best thing is to come and see it in the field.

What you respond to accusations of torture in police stations?
When they occur, the weight of the law will fall on those responsible. There are those convicted for this already.

Also in the case of the opponent Fernando Albán? He fell from a tenth floor when he was detained by the SEBIN.
We did an investigation in which everything pointed to that, unfortunately, he decided to commit suicide. The autopsy, the photographs and more evidence led to that conclusion. It is a closed case, very regrettable. In this case, the custodians of SEBIN are detained for not having fulfilled their custody duties.

Do you understand that this spectacular death generates distrust?
I repeat that all the information of a legal medical nature indicates that it was a suicide. What more can I say? There were no previous signs of torture and his death is due to polytrauma and hypovolemic shock, that is, a great hemorrhage.

Being a poet, what literary resource would you choose to describe the current situation in Venezuela?
I could not summarize it in one word. Venezuela is a country that resists the siege of the first military superpower in the world. We defend our sovereignty and this people has remained peaceful and civic in the face of electrical sabotage, for example. An artificial social explosion was wanted to end in a civil war. Since 1999, this is a daily laboratory of events, and has intensified since the death of Chávez in 2013. This country resists threats of military occupation and will overcome. The most difficult stretches have been overcome, here were hours and days for the Government to fall after the appearance of this subject not elected by anyone [Guaidó]. It’s been three months and he has not been able to do anything he wanted. But unfortunate things have happened, such as the financial and economic blockade against Venezuela, the theft of our assets by the US, which were the 7,000 million dollar Citgo company, the theft of our gold by England … According to the Latin American Strategic Center for Geopolitics (CLAG), financial theft boosted between 2013 and 2017 are losses for the country of more than 300,000 million dollars. It’s hard, they block you credit lines, access to banks, the purchase of food and medicine. That way, it has been an attempted overthrow of a legitimate government through economic blockade.

Source URL: Alba Ciudad

Translated by JRE\EF

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