Latin America

Ex-Venezuelan prosecutor: Lopez trial was a “farce”

One of the prosecutors in the farcical trial of Leopoldo Lopez– which ended in a 13-year prison sentence for the Venezuelan opposition leader– has now admitted that, yes, it was indeed a farce.

…Franklin Nieves, one of the two main prosecutors in the case against the opposition leader, Leopoldo López, has released a video in which he calls the trial a farce and says that he has fled the country.

“I decided to leave Venezuela with my family because of the pressure that I was under from the executive branch and my superiors to continue to defend the false evidence that was used to convict Leopoldo López,” Mr. Nieves says in the video, which was posted on a popular Venezuelan website.

While I appreciate Nieves’s belated honesty, I can’t help thinking how much more devastating it would have been for the wretched regime of President Nicolas Maduro if he had been brave enough to say these things during the trial.

Mr. López, a former mayor of a section of Caracas, the capital, was arrested in February 2014 and charged with inciting violence in connection with a wave of antigovernment protests that swept through the country.

At his trial, which lasted for more than a year, the prosecutors cited studies by two experts who analyzed his speeches and comments on social media, arguing that despite Mr. López’s overt calls for nonviolence, there were subliminal messages that promoted volatile sentiments against the government in his followers.

Subliminal messages? The Bolivarian regime seems to have a phobia about subliminal messages. The opposition was previously accused of hiding a coded message calling for the murder of Hugo Chavez’s brother in the answers to a crossword puzzle.

In September, a judge found Mr. López guilty and handed down the lengthy sentence. International human rights advocates said the trial lacked the most basic guarantees of due process.

You may recall this touching exchange between future Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Maduro two months after the arrest of Lopez.