CARACAS – The recently appointed attorney general of Venezuela, Tarek William Saab, announced Friday that he will reopen investigations initiated by his predecessor, Luisa Ortega Diaz, into violence in the recent anti-government demonstrations, while also opening new cases that were previously ignored.
Saab was appointed by the National Constituent Assembly, which was installed a week ago and is made up of more than 500 members aligned with the Nicolas Maduro government, and whose first action was the dismissal of Ortega Diaz, who this year had initiated a series of legal cases against pro-government forces.
Five days after taking offices as attorney general, the former ombudsman said that for some time he had observed “serious faults” in the last attorney general’s investigations.
Saab let it be known that he will open “criminal investigations that were not opened at the right time” in matters of “environmental damage” because of all the trees cut down during the massive opposition demonstrations, which have shaken the country over the past four months.
In that period not a single investigation for such damages was opened, unlike what the Attorney General’s Office did with a similar wave of protests in 2014 when seven cases were opened.
Investigations will also be opened into “the abhorrent use of little boys and girls and adolescents” in opposition demonstrations during these months, he said.
“We have decided to review the cases opened to investigate what could be hate crimes, which is to say, those perpetrated by groups, mobs, gangs formed to commit crimes...with the premeditated intention to commit homicide,” he said.
Ortega Diaz was harshly criticized for her course of action in recent months, from the time she denounced the Supreme Court’s offenses against constitutional order encouraged by the Maduro government, which started a free fall that ended with her dismissal.
In the last four months, she took great pains to investigate government officials responsible for violence against demonstrators, the repression of protests, and security agents’ responsibility for many of the deaths inflicted in recent months.
The performance of the former attorney general in defense of opposition members was not equaled, according to the government, by a search for justice for victims among ruling party sympathizers in the same demonstrations.