BOGOTA – The Venezuelan Supreme Court “in exile” sentenced President Nicolas Maduro in absentia on Wednesday in Bogota to 18 years and three months in prison for the crimes of corruption and money laundering in a case involving Brazil’s Odebrecht construction company.
“The penalties for crimes committed should be imposed ... taking into account the aggravating circumstances and those considered by this jurisdictional entity ... for both criminal acts in the following way: 18 years and three months of incarceration,” Justice Rommel Gil said during the hearing held at the Colombian Congress.
The high court in exile in Bogota on Aug. 2 began a trial on charges filed by former Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz, who in seven court sessions presented evidence linking Maduro to bribes paid by Odebrecht to secure construction contracts.
According to Ortega, Maduro as foreign minister for the late President Hugo Chavez signed contracts awarding Odebrecht construction contracts as payment for supporting them in the 2005 presidential campaign.
Maduro was also convicted in absentia of asking the Brazilian firm for $50 million for his 2013 own campaign, of which he received $35 million in exchange for according “preferential treatment” to Odebrecht.
Gil said that the sentence must be served in the Ramo Verde prison in Venezuela’s Miranda state, where opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Daniel Ceballos, the latter the former mayor of San Cristobal, were incarcerated.
He added that the exile high court also found during the course of the trial that “credible criminal culpability” had been proven against Maduro, whereupon it barred him from occupying public office for the term of the sentence.
Furthermore, the exile court levied a $25 million fine against the Venezuelan leader for the crime of corruption and ordered him to repay the Venezuelan state $35 million for money laundering.
After the trial was over, proceedings that were deemed “historic” by high court Chief Justice Miguel Angel Martin, the Venezuelan public present in the courtroom applauded the magistrates and shouted “Justice, justice, justice!”