Leopoldo's Trial Ends Without Evidence; Verdict Imminent
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Leopoldo’s Trial Ends Without Evidence; Verdict Imminent
Our fight is very concrete, very clear. For a Venezuela where all rights are for all people. Where there is no discrimination. Where there is no abuse of power. Where the rights of people are not violated, where everyone has access to health, to work, to housing. All rights for all people.”
~Leopoldo López
Ramo Verde Prison
October 2014
Trial Ends Abruptly, Before Key Evidence and Witnesses are Considered
Judge Susana Barreiros ended the trial against Leopoldo on August 25 – even though much of the evidence and witnesses submitted by both the prosecution and the defense were never considered. This includes the actual speeches made by Leopoldo during the January-February 2014 protests, which supposedly are at the center of the case.  Leopoldo has been imprisoned on the basis of these four speeches, in which he advocated democratic, constitutional and non-violent change. 
18-Month Circus Made a Mockery of Justice
This brings to a close an 18-month Orwellian circus trial that made a complete mockery of any normal standard of justice:
  • The government claimed that Leopoldo’s explicit, documented calls for nonviolence in fact contained “subliminal messaging” urging supporters to set fires and attack government forces. The linguistics expert that was the sole source of evidence for this claim admitted during cross-examination that the government’s charge had no basis in fact.
  • Leopoldo was provided only three hours for his defense in comparison to the 600 hours awarded to the prosecution.
  • The judge rejected 58 of the 60 defense witnesses – the remaining two were unwilling to testify – but allowed 108 witnesses for the prosecution.
  • The prosecution did not provide a single piece of hard evidence supporting its allegations against Leopoldo.
  • Venezuela’s president and many of its top leaders publicly accused Leopoldo of murder and terrorism before his trial even began, and vowed to lock him up for many years – making it plain that due process has no place in the current justice system.
Leopoldo Lawyer: “The Only Legitimate Judgment Would Be Acquittal and Release”
Leopoldo’s international lawyer, Jared Genser, stated yesterday, “While the end of the trial was not expected, we were not surprised that the court continues to act with little regard to due process. This has been a Kafkaesque trial from start to finish. The only legitimate judgment would be an acquittal and Leopoldo’s immediate release from prison.”
Held in Isolation, Deprived of Key Court Documents
In addition, Leopoldo’s treatment in prison has declined in recent weeks. After the surprise release of a video last week that showed Leopoldo’s conditions in prison, the government moved him to a new cell where he is completely isolated. The government also took away all of his reading materials, as well as the documents regarding his trial proceedings.  Without access to his trial records, Leopoldo was unable to prepare his case properly.
In another bizarre action of the government, President Maduro claimed this week that he has foiled a plot to kill Leopoldo. Leopoldo and his counsel are pursuing legal action against President Maduro to demand he substantiate these claims.

2014 Video Surfaces: A Rare Glimpse of Leopoldo in Prison
CNN released a video last week showing Leopoldo’s bleak conditions in Ramo Verde prison in October 2014. The video appears to take place during some sort of disturbance in the prison, and captures a shouted conversation between Leopoldo and fellow political prisoner Daniel Ceballos.
The video, with English subtitles, can be viewed here.  Even though it is old, it is worth viewing as it is a rare glimpse of the inner strength and resolve of one of the great social leaders of our time.

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