Over the weekend, Franklin Nieves, the lead prosecutor in the case against Leopoldo López, released a video from exile in the U.S. that quickly went viral. In it, a bleary eyed, visibly shaken Nieves confesses to being complicit in what amounts to a conspiracy to fabricate evidence against López, currently serving a 14 year sentence in solitary confinement in Ramo Verde Military Prison for what any minimally rational person can discern are trumped-up charges.
Neither Reuters nor the New York Times have been able to independently verify his whereabouts, and it’s not actually clear whether he’s cooperating with U.S. authorities. The story could still turn out to be some elaborate disinformation hoax.
What I can confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt is how much sympathy Nieves’s pathetic statement gets from me.
Because instead of seizing on this opportunity to expose just how nefarious this government is, to reflect upon the harm he’s done to our institutions and moral fabric, or, maybe even to apologize to the Lopez’s family for having taken years away from their lives, Nieves uses his 15 minutes to bitch that he can’t get a good night’s sleep.
Yes, Nieves, this is all about you and your disrupted biorhythms.
“Those who know me,” he laments, “know the anguish that I went through, how I couldn’t sleep because of the pain and the pressure that I felt continuing with the farce, continuing this case that unjustly violated the rights of this person.”
So let me get this straight, Nieves. You openly admit to violating human rights, forsaking your legal profession and landing an innocent man in jail for a decade and a half, and this makes YOU the victim? Not only that, but then you warn about being the subject of a possible smear campaign? Is the poow wittle pwosecutor sad he had to fwee the countrwy and now the bad people are angwy? Are you kidding me?
That Leopoldo’s trial was a ludicrous sham is not, of course, news. I did, however, wonder whether the people involved in perpetrating it were actually aware of how much of a sham it was, or whether they were sufficiently self-deluded to buy their own propaganda line. I have my answer now. This guy is a piece of shit.
And it’s not like this is the first time Venezuelans are treated to explosive first-hand disclosures of corruption and fraud within the Justice System that would warrant impeachment in any nation worth its separation of powers.
Remember Carlos Kauffman singing like a canary to U.S. authorities over the suitcase full of PDVSA petrodollars that Chávez sent over to Cristina Kirchner’s Presidential campaign? Or the extensive briefing that former Supreme Tribunal of Justice magistrate Eladio Aponte Aponte gave to the DEA, detailing how he was paid to dismiss uncooperative judges and arrange for favorable sentences in drug-related cases where the government was involved? How about the story of Luis Velasquez Alvaray and the Seven Dwarfs?
In Venezuela these stories amount to little more than a single news cycle’s worth of water-cooler indignation.
Here’s hoping that Nieves’s mea-culpa-less mea-culpa actually amounts to something more than a whiny rant.