TSJ Justice Velásquez turns up the heat in Bolivarian corruption scandal

Katy says: Supreme Tribunal justice and former chavista congressman Luis Velásquez Alvaray (LVA), who was one of the main architects of last year’s Supreme Tribunal Law that gave the government the power to pack the courts, has been suspended pending an investigation into alleged corruption. Today, LVA shot back at the government in a press conference chock-full of incandescent allegations and promises of more to come. What follows is a translation of the Globovisión note on the press conference.

“Supreme Tribunal magistrate Luis Velásquez Alvaray shot back claims and allegations, following his suspension from the tribunal imposed by the Republican Moral Council. He regretted, he said, that “one of the watchdogs of the Constitution had violated it through and through, as I am about to show.” He also accused Vice-president José Vicente Rangel, Interior Minister Jesse Chacón and National Assembly President Nicolás Maduro of plotting to install “chavismo without Chávez” and of wanting to exclude him from the Judicial Branch so they can “keep abusing their power.”

He stated that the campaign against him began with the (murdered prosecutor Danilo) Anderson case, and that it is being orchestrated by Rangel, Chacón, Maduro, and judges Belkys Cedeño and Maikel Moreno.

“Why is Rangel so interested in the Anderson case? Why don’t they investigate that more? Everything related to the Anderson case is being hidden from the public”, said Velásquez. He said he did not know why they were so keen on hiding everything related to the case, “but Rangel is related to every instance that the Anderson case touches.”

He did not wish to state that Rangel was the leader of the “band of midgets,” but he did affirm that Rangel knows who its members are, and as proof he played an alleged recording of judge Maikel Moreno asking the president of the Penal Hall of the Supreme Tribunal to acquit a person “convicted of drug-smuggling felonies.”

Velásquez also played a recording of judge Alejandra Rivas. Velásquez affirmed that Rangel told him she was partial and demanded Rivas be removed from her post, but Velásquez declined to do so after investigating her and concluding she was an honest judge. Velásquez also stated that he will continue making his allegations, saying “if they want to kill me, go right ahead,” and claiming he had “many more recordings.”

With the Constitution and a crucifix in his hand, he swore “to the country that I have never engaged in acts of corruption against the State. I have never allowed it, nor will I ever.” He said Interior Minister Chacón’s allegations against him were “moronic” and that the Republican Moral Council has been “blatantly lying” to the country.

Velásquez reproached the Moral Council for having given Chacón 10 days to clarify his allegations, while his own right to self-defense has been over-ridden. He says the Moral Council “makes up deadlines that do not exist, and I was given only eight days to defend myself.” He said the Interior Minister “fabricated” evidence, and called his suspension, announced yesterday by the Prosecutor General, the Comptroller General and the People’s Ombudsman, “the circus of the year.”

He stated that he will not leave the country and that he will prove his innocence. “We will fight to the end because it is not about me, it is about the constitutionality [sic]. The government has to think about what its Interior Minister, and now the Republican Moral Council, did. They are attempting a political murder.”