(Spanish CNN) — At the request of the Public Ministry of Venezuela, a control judge in Caracas agreed to indict nine officials, 10 businessmen, a former deputy from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, and three judges allegedly linked to a corruption scheme at the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which was denounced last week by high authorities of the Nicolás Maduro regime, according to reported on Twitter the country’s attorney general, Tarek William Saab.
Neither the Public Prosecutor’s Office nor the court detailed the charges or the place of imprisonment of the indicated persons. Under Venezuelan law, the presentation hearing must take place within the first 48 hours after the arrest. The first arrests in this plot were announced on March 19.
The hearing for the presentation of the suspects was held outside the headquarters of the criminal courts, located in downtown Caracas. The official Venezolana de Televisión channel broadcast the entry of the alleged perpetrators into the room where the hearing was held. They were lined up, dressed in orange clothing—some with their hands behind their backs and others handcuffed—and escorted by the National Anti-Corruption Police. In the place there was no presence of the independent press.
Last Saturday, Saab had announced that these detainees would be charged with the crimes of appropriation or diversion of public property, flaunting relationships and influences, money laundering and criminal association.
The prosecutor had also reported that they also planned to charge public employees with the crime of treason. However, at the moment the details are not publicly known, nor has CNN received a response to its requests for information.
On March 19, a source close to the Venezuelan judicial system told CNN that Hugbel Roa, a PSUV deputy, was one of those detained. CNN has tried to communicate with Roa’s defense to find out his version without having received a response so far.
As a result of the investigation announced by the Venezuelan authorities, the resignation of the Oil Minister, Tarek El Aissami, took place last week, who until now has not communicated the reasons for his departure.
El Aissami, who in 2017 held the vice presidency of Venezuela and was Minister of the Interior and Justice in the time of Hugo Chávez, was replaced by Pedro Tellechea, who also holds the position of president of PDVSA.
CNN has tried to reach El Aissami with no response so far.
On Tuesday, in an interview with Colombia’s W radio, Saab referred to the issue and when asked if El Aissami would be investigated, he replied that he did not want to “get ahead of events that are in full swing.”
CNN has asked Saab if El Aissami is being investigated with no response so far.
He also assured the Colombian radio station that there are still another 11 people with arrest warrants to materialize and that, surely in the midst of the accusations of the detainees, there will be new arrest warrants.
“There is still a lot of cloth to be cut,” he said.
Among the detainees are three former officials of the Judiciary — the former president of the judicial circuit of the metropolitan area of Caracas, Cristóbal Cornieles Perret, and former judges José Mascimino Márquez García and Yorwis Bracho Gómez — in addition to the former mayor of the Santos Michelena-Las Tejerías municipality, Pedro Hernández . Saab accused them of “taking advantage of their position to grant judicial benefits.”
CNN tried to contact the defense teams of Cornieles, Bracho and Márquez without receiving a response so far.
Source: CNN Espanol