Opposition Leader Capriles in Preliminary Hearing in Venezuelan Supreme Court
The Venezuelan Supreme Court is holding a preliminary hearing on merits against the opposition governor of Miranda state, Henrique Capriles, for supposedly committing “fraud crimes against the nation with malicious intent and administrative corruption”, the court statement noted.
Henrique Capriles is a leader of the opposition party, Primero Justicia, was mayor of Baruta municipality, Miranda state, from 2000 to 2008, and is currently governor of Miranda. Capriles’ family owns a range of businesses, including in food, cinema, and the Capriles Group, a media conglomerate.
On the 3 May this year Capriles announced his intention to participate in the opposition’s primary elections to choose their presidential candidate. Those primary elections are scheduled for February next year, and the presidential elections are likely in December next year.
The case has been brought to court by a citizen, Gerson Perez, who argued that Capriles’ crimes fall under article 466 of the Penal Code, according to which Capriles would receive a prison sentence of 1 to 4 years. Capriles’ supposed crimes involve fraud through false statements of capital and hiding facts relating to it.
According to Perez, during his time as governor, Capriles has awarded contracts to companies which form part of his own business empire, including Desarrollos Insamar, Desarrolos San Martin, Empresas Boralis, and Empresa Promotora Parque Las Delicias. Such actions also violate the Law against Corruption, the Tenders Law and the Accountability Law.
Further, according to the state news agency AVN, the workers council of the city mayoralty in Miranda state requested last week to extend an inquiry into an estimated Bs 140,000 (US$ 32,000) owed to the city mayoralty.
The accusation, supported by over 2,000 workers, claims that the governor, along with city mayor Antonio Ledezma, have withheld resources destined for the payment of workers’ wages and diverted them or embezzled them into other projects.
Capriles has told press at a school inauguration ceremony that, “They [the high court preliminary trial] want to believe they can make me lose sleep, but the only thing that will make me lose sleep is constructing public works like schools, that all children receive the best food.”
He made no other comments about the preliminary trial to the press.
While he was mayor of Baruta municipality in Caracas in 2004, a Venezuelan court also issued an arrest warrant for Capriles for his participation in violent confrontations outside the Cuban Embassy during the short coup in April 2002. Capriles faced six charges as a participant and accomplice to the violation of international conventions, illegal confinement, public threats, destruction of private property, civil violence, and breaking and entering by public employees.
Capriles spent four months in prison, then was released with conditions after the judge ruled that the crimes in question were committed by third parties. The Supreme Court then overturned the decision, but Capriles was not imprisoned during the trial.