By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez, the current head of Venezuela’s SEBIN intelligence service, was charged and subpoenaed in a human-rights violation case by the Attorney General’s Office on Friday.
Gonzalez thus becomes the highest sitting official ever subpoenaed by the Prosecutor's Office in a human rights case and the second since former National Guard commander Antonio Benavides was charged Thursday.
The subpoena and charges are for “allegedly carrying out grave and systematic violations of human rights”, the Prosecutor's Office said in a web posting.
Gonzalez needs to be at the Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday, July 4th at 10 am accompanied by sworn counsel. The warrant “corresponds with ongoing inquiries by the institution relating to cases of arbitrary raids, illegitimate arrests, the causes of persons that remain detained in spite of courts having issued warrants for their release
SEBIN is an all-new intelligence service created in the early years of “chavismo”, during the Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) era. Critics and the opposition call it “the political police” and its well-known for harassing and spying on high-profile political opponents.THE LONG LIST
Both Gonzalez and Benavides are part of a group of dozens of Venezuelan civil servants, Supreme Court justices, “enchufado” (meaning, plugged-in or connected to the Maduro government) private businessmen, and military and police officers, who have received some sort of sanction from U.S. authorities, a long list which includes sitting Vice President Tareck El Aissami -- named a “kingpin” in the illicit drug trade by the U.S. Treasury Department -- as well as current Supreme Court chief justice Maikel Moreno, a Specilly Designated National also by U.S. Treasury.
In a development that will resonate with readers familiar with the “Watergate” era, the Maduro-controlled Supreme Court is maneuvering to have Attorney General Luisa Ortega fired. Ortega said this week she will disavow Supreme Court sentences in that regard, saying they are against the Constitution and citing Article 333, which exempts Venezuelans from obeying orders or decisions that contradict the Magna Carta.
Ortega, formerly an avowed “chavista” first started becoming a legal thorn in the side to Nicolas Maduro’s government in late March, when she deemed a move by the Supreme Court to usurp the functions of the opposition-held National Assembly as a breach of the constitutional order.
The Supreme Court backtracked, prodded by Maduro himself, but to no avail: From them on, Ortega has only deepened her opposition to Maduro, denouncing the President’s attempts to ditch the present Constitution (and her) and trying several legal maneuvers herself to stop Maduro’s calls for an ad-hoc Constituent Assembly, so far with zero legal success but with plenty of popular support, including shout-outs from an opposition that formerly criticized her.Maduro Promotes Gonzalez
And what did Maduro do in the wake of the Attorney General's indictment of the SEBIN head? Promoted him to Chief General, saying both Gonzalez and Benavides have his "full support."