Families hope for a momentary release for the six American oil executives who were detained for three years in Venezuela due to their alleged graft scheme. A judge in Venezuela, after several court hearings, has found these executives guilty of the corruption charges, sentencing them quickly to prison.
The relatives and lawyers of the named “Citgo 6” have said that the accused were mistakenly convicted. They believed that there were inadequately presented pieces of evidence to prove these executives guilty, and they also thought these were stemmed from the country’s faulty justice system. Consequently, this has sparked arguments and critics from citizens who have contrasting opinions about the situation.
One of their family members also stated that there were a lot of external factors affecting the verdict, and this should be considered as a threat to human rights. The defense attorneys have vowed to request Thursday’s verdicts. Alirio Zambrano, who has two brothers among the defendants, reported that his brothers were obviously innocent and they were only judicial terrorism victims. He added that there were no concrete pieces of evidence presented to support the case, and it only leads to a questionable verdict.
Moreover, Alirio Zambrano expressed his disappointment and told the media that he and his family were extremely heartbroken to have been separated from their two family members. They were also praying that the political leaders of their nation will sooner step forward and finally fight for the executive’s human rights and freedom.
Attorney María Poleo was the one who represented three of those executives. She was equally frustrated and disappointed by how the court handled the case. She believed that it was unfair for those six executives to be sentenced to prison and also said that the accusations have unreliable, “void evidence”.
The “Citgo 6” are also employees of a Citgo refining company located in Houston and is owned by the state oil company in Venezuela. Three years ago, they were assigned in Venezuela for a business appointment and were sooner jailed for corruption accusations.
Their controversial arrest had launched an unexpected purge which was led by President Maduro’s PDVSA government during the time when the relationship between Washington and Caracas crumbled as Venezuela fell into a social and economic crisis.
Five of the “Citgo 6” members were sentenced to eight years and ten months of prison while the other one was sentenced to thirteen years. Jesus Loreto, the defense attorney, stated that the five members of the “Citgo 6” who have fewer sentences could be freed within a couple of years on parole.
The Supreme Justice Tribunal in Venezuela announced the decision regarding the prison sentences. However, there was no other statement offered regarding the outcome of the trial. Despite the disappointment, families of the “Citgo 6” remained hopeful while expecting that justice will soon be granted. Vadell, one of the members of “Citgo 6”, stated through a hand-written letter that he is confident with his innocence and he is reaching a point where if justice prevails, he will be able to build his life again and compensate for his lost moments with his family.