An Illegal Court Is in Charge of Juan Requesens Case

Every Venezuelan court must be made up by a judge, a secretary and a bailiff. One of the members of this tripod, as to the court in charge of the case of the Justice First party deputy, is usurping functions since he does not meet the requirements to hold the position. That automatically invalidates that instance. This is the most recent legal irregularity in this case, where not all officials sign their acts, lawyers do not know the file, and the Constitution has been openly violated.

1 November 2018
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The name of Yasmily Alexandra Rojas Guzmán bashfully appeared in some Venezuelan news portals on the evening of Monday, October 29. Shortly before, the lawyers of deputy Juan Requesens ?86 days imprisoned in El Helicoide, the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin), accused of being responsible for the failed attack of August 4 against President Nicolás Maduro? revealed a key detail to the general public ?Rojas Guzmán, clerk of the trial against the deputy, is not a lawyer.

Article 510 of the Organic Code of Criminal Procedure of Venezuela provides that the individual holding that position must be a legal practitioner. Furthermore, the Venezuelan law establishes that a court is made up of a judge and a bailiff. Hence, the court in charge of Requesens’ case is not legally made up and is "invalid."

The notice that Rojas Guzmán is not a legal practitioner reached the ears of the defense of the deputy through the personnel of the Palace of Justice. Therefore, the first week of October, the Internal Policy Committee of the National Assembly asked the Lawyers' Social Security Institute (Inpreabogado) to clarify the issue. The answer arrived three weeks later to the hands of lawyer Joel García, counsel for the defense of Requesens and appointed by deputy Delsa Solórzano, as a letter. "(...) The abovementioned individual (Rojas Guzmán) is not registered, to date, as a lawyer of the Republic, to date, errors and omissions in the computer system excepted," reads the document endorsed by the president of Inpreabogado, Luis González Blanco.

"The Constitution provides that every act or individual usurping a function is null and void and in any act that entails that consequence, the individual incurs criminal liability under civil and administrative law. But not only the individual who serves as clerk incurs that irregularity, also the judge, as it is the judge who appointed the clerk," said lawyer García, before declaring that Requesens should not be deprived of his freedom for this and other irregularities.

No Signature, but History

Rojas Guzmán has a long career in the Venezuelan judiciary. According to information from the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS), since February 16, 1997, the almost 44-year-old woman is an active employee of the Executive Office of the Magistracy, the subsidiary body of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), the purpose of which is "to exercise, by delegation, the functions of running, management, administration, inspection, and oversight of the Judiciary."

A list of active members of the savings bank of the judiciary, of February of this year, confirms that she is employed by said body. She previously served as an assistant in other trials but, according to the defense, she never served as a clerk.

In social media, Rojas Guzmán described herself as "a prosperous and chosen daughter of God," "mother of two wonderful children," "100% Venezuelan," "a determined fighter" and "a winner." At least until 2013, she was not an active member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) or the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR). And, although she does not express her political preferences, at least publicly, as most Venezuelans, she criticizes the so-called "Maduro diet". Some of her close relatives are openly opponents in the social media.

However, the presence of Rojas Guzmán in this court is suspicious for the defense and others, who connect her with high officials of the Venezuelan Government.

"That person has not wanted to sign the acts that the court has developed. They want to put a person who is a lawyer instead, but we all know and the defense of the other defendants knows that the person who is actually there is not a lawyer," said García.

After being out of the country for a while, Judge Carol Padilla, head of the First Special Court of First Instance acting as Court of Proceedings, returned to the court, as the defense of Requesens stated on Monday. Regarding Padilla ?who, according to Poderopedia, in 2013, was part of the team of the Office of the Presidency of the National Assembly (AN)?, Borges says that she is the right hand of the president of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), Diosdado Cabello.

On the day of the hearing of Requesens, a man from outside the court attended an act that was supposed to be private. The defense learned later that the man was Padilla’s husband.

Flagrant Irregularities

On August 7, 2018, at 8:22 pm, Deputy Requesens was getting out of the elevator of his building in the Terrazas de Club Hípico neighborhood, southeast of Caracas, with his sister Rafaela, president of the Federation of University Centers of Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV). Rumors that the SEBIN was looking for him were louder at night, while Maduro spoke on a joint radio and television broadcast.

Witnesses say that about a dozen officials approached the Requesens Martinez siblings before they left the building. Some were wearing hoods, other not. Several were spotted by the security camera of the building. Only five officials sign the deputy's arrest warrant, even though all the participants in the operation were to sign it.

The defense of the deputy asked the Public Prosecutor’s Office proofs of technical coherence to determine if the video circulating on social media had been edited, in addition to anthropometric proofs to identify the participating officials and verify if their names agree with the few who signed the act. However, that was denied.

On August 8, at 11:50 am, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), Maikel Moreno, informed through his Twitter account that the TSJ had decreed the arrest of Requesens as "flagrant," and ordered to hold the deputy under the custody of the State security forces until the ruling Constituent Assembly resolved on the removal of the deputy's parliamentary immunity. This happened in a matter of hours.

"The flagrancy is concomitant with the fact, not after," explains lawyer Joel García, who has insisted that in the case of Deputy Requesens, for the eight crimes charged against him (continued public incitement, aggravated attempted homicide against President Maduro and against the military of the Bolivarian National Guard, use of explosive devices, criminal association, terrorist financing, property damage, and treason) one cannot speak of flagrante delicto. The failed attack occurred on August 4 and his arrest came three days later.

Yet, even if the official version on flagrancy were true, the team of Requesens’ lawyers said that another irregularity would be committed. Article 200 of the Constitution provides that if a member of the parliament commits a flagrant crime, the competent authority must hold him or her in custody in his/her home. But Requesens was transferred that night from his home to the Sebin headquarters in El Helicoide, where he has been for 86 days. However, he was missing for the first four hours.

The transfer to the court of proceedings, which the Constitution establishes that must be made within 48 hours after the arrest, took place seven days later.

The lawyers report that almost three months later after his arrest, they do not have the reasoned order "because the court has not issued it yet." And that is not the only thing they owe the lawyers. "To date, the defense does not have a printed accusation, we do not know what crimes were charged against him (...) We appealed in the dark," they say.

Within the 86 days from the arrest of the deputy, any of his lawyers has seen him, so they also claimed a violation of the right to a defense. His parents have only been able to see him five times within that period.

In a government broadcast nationwide on the night of that August 7, the day of the arrest of the deputy, when presenting the evidence of the failed attack, President Maduro showed a video with a testimony of who he claimed was the operating officer "of the assassins and hitmen" that tried to kill him three days ago.

It was the retired sergeant, Juan Carlos Monasterios Vanegas. "The first days of June (of 2018), I return (...) to Colombia but I had a problem with the documentation (...). When I arrived in San Cristóbal, I received a text message from deputy Juan Requesens, telling me that he was in charge of helping me go to the other side through Julio Borges (...) The instruction was to ask for Mauricio Jiménez, head of migration affairs of Colombia, when (...) I reached the Colombian authorities. I entered Colombia without any problem (...) and made arrangements there to get the drones in," he said in a video where he appears handcuffed and with his face blurred.

The case of deputy Juan Requesens has been different from other cases of Venezuelan political prisoners. "They raised the bar, very high," says García

"A person who is inside the Sebin, without his defense attorney, without a court and handcuffed is evidence that there is coercion (...) that proof is null and void," says lawyer García.

Three days later, the Minister of Communication and Information, Jorge Rodríguez, presented a video showing a weird Juan Requesens making what seems to be a confession that complements the version of Monasterios. "Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Julio Borges, who asked me to help Juan Monasterios to go from Venezuela to Colombia. I contacted him through messaging. I was in San Cristóbal and wrote to Mauricio Jiménez, Migration Supervisor. I made the request and they immediately contacted Juan Monasterios for him to enter from San Antonio to Cúcuta."

At the deferred hearing, finally held on August 13, the only day when he could speak with his lawyers, Requesens told them that he did not remember having recorded that incriminating video. García, like everyone who knows him, does not hesitate to assure that Requesens "was not in his sound mind".

Deputy Juan Requesens has been different from other cases of Venezuelan political prisoners. "They have raised the bar, very high," says García, referring to the multiple irregularities that would void this process.

¡Hola! Gracias por leer nuestro artículo.

A diferencia de muchos medios de comunicación digital, Armandoinfo no ha adoptado el modelo de subscripción para acceder a nuestro contenido. Nuestra misión es hacer periodismo de investigación sobre la situación en Venezuela y sacar a la luz lo que los poderosos no quieren que sepas. Por eso nos hemos ganado importantes premios como el Pulitzer por nuestros trabajos con los Papeles de Panamá y el premio Maria Moors Cabot otorgado por la Universidad de Columbia. 

Para poder continuar con esa misión, te pedimos que consideres hacer un aporte. El dinero servirá para financiar el trabajo investigativo de nuestros periodistas y mantener el sitio para que la verdad salga al aire.


Artículos Relacionados

Otras historias

The 2019 blackout derived in a network in Mexico to evade sanctions against Maduro

When Vice President Delcy Rodríguez turned to a group of Mexican friends and partners to lessen the new electricity emergency in Venezuela, she laid the foundation stone of a shortcut through which Chavismo and its commercial allies have dodged the sanctions imposed by Washington on PDVSA’s exports of crude oil. Since then, with Alex Saab, Joaquín Leal and Alessandro Bazzoni as key figures, the circuit has spread to some thirty countries to trade other Venezuelan commodities. This is part of the revelations of this joint investigative series between the newspaper El País and, developed from a leak of thousands of documents.

Lopez Obrador's government was aware of underground business with Venezuela

Leaked documents on Libre Abordo and the rest of the shady network that Joaquín Leal managed from Mexico, with tentacles reaching 30 countries, ―aimed to trade PDVSA crude oil and other raw materials that the Caracas regime needed to place in international markets in spite of the sanctions― show that the businessman claimed to have the approval of the Mexican government and supplies from Segalmex, an official entity. Beyond this smoking gun, there is evidence that Leal had privileged access to the vice foreign minister for Latin America and the Caribbean, Maximiliano Reyes.

Alex Saab left charcoal-marked fingerprints on Mexican network

The business structure that Alex Saab had registered in Turkey—revealed in 2018 in an article by—was merely a false start for his plans to export Venezuelan coal. Almost simultaneously, the Colombian merchant made contact with his Mexican counterpart, Joaquín Leal, to plot a network that would not only market crude oil from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, as part of a maneuver to bypass the sanctions imposed by Washington, but would also take charge of a scheme to export coal from the mines of Zulia, in western Venezuela. The dirty play allowed that thousands of tons, valued in millions of dollars, ended up in ports in Mexico and Central America.

For everything else, there were Joaquín Leal and Alex Saab

As part of their business network based in Mexico, with one foot in Dubai, the two traders devised a way to replace the operation of the large international credit card franchises if they were to abandon the Venezuelan market because of Washington’s sanctions. The developed electronic payment system, “Paquete Alcance,” aimed to get hundreds of millions of dollars in remittances sent by expatriates and use them to finance purchases at CLAP stores.

Two stepbrothers — One penalty

Scions of different lineages of tycoons in Venezuela, Francisco D’Agostino and Eduardo Cisneros are non-blood relatives. They were also partners for a short time in Elemento Oil & Gas Ltd, a Malta-based company, over which the young Cisneros eventually took full ownership. Elemento was a protagonist in the secret network of Venezuelan crude oil marketing that Joaquín Leal activated from Mexico. However, when it came to imposing sanctions, Washington penalized D’Agostino only… Why?

They offered to resuscitate Venezuelan aluminum production but rescued a Mexican consortium

Through a company registered in Mexico – Consorcio Panamericano de Exportación – with no known trajectory or experience, Joaquín Leal made a daring proposal to the Venezuelan Guyana Corporation to “reactivate” the aluminum industry, paralyzed after March 2019 blackout. The business proposed to pay the power supply of state-owned companies in exchange for payment-in-kind with the metal.

1 2 3 24
Sitio espejo
usermagnifierchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram