The dictator Nicolás Maduro (REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria=
In a lapidary letter dated March 30, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court responded to the arguments presented by the Maduro regime, which sought to dismiss investigations for crimes against humanity.
The regime insists that the Court does not have jurisdiction to judge and affirms that Venezuela has investigated and prosecuted the alleged crimes or is currently doing so. The dictatorship also accused the ICC prosecutor of having “ties” with non-governmental organizations. “The Prosecutor’s Office respectfully maintains that none of these petitions has merit,” the ICC states in the report.
Prosecutor Karim Khan confirms that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela, and that they are serious and require investigation and prosecution.
International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan at the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Christian Levaux
In its investigation, the CPI prosecutor’s office affirms that “from at least April 2017 onwards, thousands of opponents were allegedly persecuted for political reasons, arrested and detained without an adequate legal basis; hundreds were allegedly tortured; and more than 100 were allegedly subjected to forms of sexual violence including rape.”
For the Prosecutor’s Office, these are not isolated issues, the investigation also concluded that “the multiple commission of these acts constituted an attack against the civilian population in accordance with a State policy (…) systematic and that the policy of attacking this part of the population was, at a minimum, encouraged or approved by the Government of Venezuela and carried out mainly by members of specific state security forces with the possible assistance of pro-government groups or individuals”.
“The Prosecutor’s Office concluded that the possible cases identified are serious enough to justify the adoption of new measures by the Court, in light of quantitative and qualitative considerations, including the scale, nature, manner of commission, and the repercussions of the crimes,” he added in his report.
In the letter, Khan recalls that “reasonable grounds” were found to believe that hundreds of victims had been subjected “to a wide range of criminal acts during prolonged periods of detention, including torture, rape and/or sexual violence.” And he detailed: “The victims were allegedly subjected to acts of violence, including beatings, suffocation, near drowning, and electric shocks that resulted in serious damage to their mental and physical well-being.”
In addition, it denounces that the Venezuelan regime “has not demonstrated that it has carried out or is carrying out national investigations or prosecutions that sufficiently reflect the scope of the investigation foreseen by the Court.”
It also warns that these conclusions were made without prejudice to other crimes that may be determined at a later stage.
“For the reasons stated, the Prosecutor’s Office respectfully reiterates its request that the Preliminary Questions Chamber order the resumption of the investigation into the Situation of Venezuela,” the Prosecutor’s Office concludes in its presentation before the ICC.
The Court of The Hague is not only targeting Maduro, what it is investigating is a systematic plan ordered by the dictator but executed by a group of his officials with decision-making positions in key dependencies of the Venezuelan state: Ministers of the national Executive, Commanders of the Bolivarian National Police, the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), the Special Action Forces (FAES), the Scientific, Criminal and Criminal Investigation Corps (CICPC) , from the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), the National Anti-Extortion and Kidnapping Command (CONAS), and other units of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB).
Starting in April, the Pre-Trial Chamber will decide on the continuation of the process.
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