Venezuelan Court Keeps Daniel Ceballos Behind Bars
Español Daniel Ceballos, former mayor of San Cristóbal in Venezuela’s Táchira State, will continue to be imprisoned in the Ramo Verde military prison on court orders, despite another court being set to formally release him.
The Venezuelan judiciary has opened another pending case against Ceballos, days before the 11th Court of the Caracas Metropolitan Area is to recognize his completion of a one-year prison sentence for contempt of court.
Ceballos was arrested in February 2014 along with Enzo Scarano, former mayor of San Diego, Carabobo state, and San Cristóbal police chief Salvatore Lucchese, for defying an order by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) to dismantle barricades raised by anti-government protesters.
The trio were convicted and stripped of their positions within hours by a constitutional hearing functioning as a criminal court, and denied the right of appeal to a higher court.
Ceballos has since been imprisoned in the high security Ramo Verde facility, located in the Los Teques township 30 kilometers away from Caracas. Also imprisoned at Ramo Verde for allegedly inciting violence during 2014’s protests is opposition leader Leopoldo López.
While Scarano and Luchesse have since been freed, Ceballos’s lawyer Juan Carlos Gutiérrez — who also serves as López’s lawyer — announced on Thursday that despite Ceballos having served his time, another detention order issued by the 15th Court of Control remains in place.
Ceballos is charged with criminal association and conspiracy under the order, issued during his imprisonment in Ramo Verde and not processed up until now.
The former mayor allegedly attacked a military officer during protests in San Cristóbal, which was the epicenter of fierce demonstrations against the government of President Nicolás Maduro between February and June 2014.
Gutiérrez reported that testimony given by Táchira State Governor José Vielma Mora, a prominent Chavista official, is likely to determine whether Ceballos will be prosecuted or not. The 11th Court is expected to formally recognize the completion of his initial sentence by Monday, March 30, Gutiérrez added.
Maikel Moreno, president of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, subsequently confirmed Gutiérrez’s comments.
Moreno’s impartiality was called into question over a decade ago, amid allegations that he was part of a “tribe” that fixed judicial decisions. He was also suspected of involvement in the death of prosecutor Danilo Anderson, murdered in 2004, although he was not found guilty of any wrongdoing in either instance.
He was further removed from office as the 34th Caracas judge of control in Caracas for defying an order by the Supreme Court.
However, he is among a series of new judges appointed by the National Assembly through a simple majority in 2014. The opposition refused to participate in the procedure, describing it as unconstitutional during the government’s selection of candidates.