By Gabriela González.
Juan Pablo Saavedra is a lawyer and a colonel assimilated to the Air Force. Until 2018, he was the head of the contracting division of the Aviation Procurement Department. On May 20, 2018, he was arrested in his office.
However, it was not until May 29, nine days later, when he was introduced in court. During those nine days, Colonel Saavedra was disappeared and incomunicado.
Two years and six months later, Saavedra remains detained in the military prison of Ramo Verde, located in the state of Miranda. His case was presented to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions of the UN Human Rights Council – a UN body that monitors respect for due process and the human rights of detainees – by the defense of the military man.
The Group points out that the military man’s right to defense got violated, so they demand that he be released immediately. Attorney Maria Daniela Rivero points out that there was never an arrest warrant at the time of his arrest.
During Saavedra’s presentation hearing, the acting officers presented an order dated May 27, that is, seven days after he got arrested. Another irregularity is that the lawyers have not been allowed access to the file.
Rivero points out that Saavedra’s case adds to a long list of arbitrary detentions systematically executed.
Lawyer Rivero also recalls that since 2011 the Group of Arbitrary Detentions has tried to come to Venezuela and visit the prisons but, both governments of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. have prevented them from doing so.
Maduro’s government should report back to the UN if the military man has already been released.
The Working Group also send information to the Rapporteur against Torture, as Attorney Rivero reported that the soldier got kicked in the back, abdomen, and face. He was also psychologically tortured.
A defendant without a case
Attorney Gustavo Limongi, who is also part of the officer’s defense, explains that there is no mention of the name of Juan Pablo Saavedra in the 132-line indictment.
There is no mention of a specific fact, but rather, of meetings of military members from other components different from Saavedra’s, of supposed scenarios, and even the pretension of impeding the elections of the National Constituent Assembly in 2017 (the elections proceeded).
Limongi insists that there is not a single fact that attributed to Saavedra, an assimilated officer with no troops under his command, and yet is accused of instigating military rebellion and acts against military decorum.
He adds that on May 19, 2018, one day before his detention, officials from the military counterintelligence agency DGCIM delivered a supposed report in which they analyzed a series of facts. Furthermore, he denounces that the courts have not given a response to the appeals.
On May 20, 2019, an appeal was responded to, which they introduced in December 2018.
They demand justice
The wife of the Colonel, Maria Gabriela Ramirez, demands justice and freedom for her husband.
Meanwhile, Saavedra’s sister, Rossana Saavedra, remembers that her mother was on the verge of death when she heard about the military man’s arrest.
She reiterates that her brother’s human rights have been violated and insists that he is a peaceful man and an unimpeachable professional for what she considers to be his unjust detention.
Between sobs, the colonel’s sister stated that her brother has been suffering “a horrible punishment.” Rossana said that they have eight months without being able to see him. The last time was in March.
Juan Pablo Saavedra suffers asthma, a condition that worries relatives even more in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and because he was already ill the last time they saw him.