The International Criminal Court said Wednesday it had not accepted any case of alleged torture from members of the opposition in Venezuela, contrary to what the head of the National Assembly had claimed just a day earlier.
The president of Venezuela’s opposition-majority National Assembly, Julio Borges, claimed Tuesday that state security forces had tortured two brothers who were taken into custody and forced them to accuse opposition leaders of illegal activities, specifically paying demonstrators to ensure violence escalated during anti-government marches.
Borges said the case had already been filed in the international court, but ICC sources dispelled the claim Wednesday.
Alejandro Sanchez and his brother Jose Sanchez were arrested last week during violent opposition protests in the capital city, the latest in a series of demonstrations in recent weeks that have left at least seven people dead and injured dozens more amid looting and vandalism. The brothers were later indicted on charges of criminal association and incitement to crime.
Government officials later released a video of Sanchez confessing that opposition lawmakers Tomas Guanipa, Jose Guerra and Marialbert Barrios of the Justice First opposition party, together with the head of the organization in Caracas, Carmelo Zambrano, gave sums of money to demonstrators to foment violence during the marches. The opposition claims the brothers were forced into the confession.
“In this case, the two Sanchez brothers were tortured and we were able to get their torture case accepted in the Hague yesterday,” said Borges to local media.
But sources in the ICC said the court had not accepted any case of torture, adding that documents can be sent to the court without an investigation necessarily being opened.
Comment: The opposition claimed the activists were tortured into false confessions, and had been refused their right to see a lawyer and their family. But this directly contradicted the official statement from their lawyer, who stated he had met with them and their father. Just another case of pathologicals who will do anything to bring the government down.
It is not the first time that the ICC has denied allegations from the Venezuelan opposition. In September, the court denied the claim that Lilian Tintori, the wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, had filed a complaint in the Hague against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The ICC jurisdiction can only be activated by the Office of the Prosecutor, the U.N. Security Council or states when they are not able to operate their own justice mechanisms.
The only Latin American country currently under investigation by the ICC is Colombia due to the “false positives” scandal, in which the military carried out extrajudicial killings of civilians and passed them off as guerillas killed in combat.
Maduro said he will bring to justice anyone who makes false allegations and denied the claims that the detainees had been tortured.