CARACAS – Venezuela’s Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said on Saturday that politicians deprived of their freedom cannot be used as objects of negotiation or hostages.
Ortega’s remarks came shortly after opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was placed under house arrest after more than three years in prison.
“People deprived of their liberty cannot be used as if they were some hostages who can be the object of negotiations, as is done by some criminal groups with people they kidnap. A case as delicate and sensitive for the country as this should not be manipulated to try to legitimize oneself and improve one’s image,” Ortega said.
These comments, which Ortega made to Chilean newspaper La Tercera, were also posted by the Public Ministry on its Twitter account.
Ortega’s statements come hours after President Nicolas Maduro said she had asked for a 30-year prison sentence for Lopez in the trial against him and reiterated that the attorney general’s office was responsible for the trial, sentencing and imprisonment of the politician.
Ortega told the Chilean newspaper that, “paradoxically, now they intend to use that case as part of the campaign against the public ministry, which is an independent institution, where prosecutors takes their cases independently, according to their criteria which must comply with specific facts that should be framed within strict legislation.”
The attorney general urged the prosecutors of the public ministry to assume their role and responsibility, saying that is what she has always done and will continue doing.
Lopez was sentenced to almost 14 years in prison on charges of public incitement, association to commit crime, property damage and arson related to violent acts during a protest march on Feb. 12, 2014.
For the past three months, Venezuela has been experiencing a wave of anti-government protests, some of which have turned violent, leaving at least 91 people dead, according to figures compiled by the Attorney General’s Office.
Lopez’s party said on Saturday that it was these protests that had led to the leader’s release from prison and being placed under house arrest.