Monday 18 November 2013
In June 2012, José Amalio Graterol was arrested when he refused to continue with the trial in the absence of his client, as trials in absentia were not permitted under Venezuelan criminal law. Graterol is defence lawyer for Judge María Lourdes Afiuni, one of Venezuela’s most high- profile political prisoners. It is widely speculated that the charges were brought against Mr Graterol to frustrate the defence of Judge Afiuni and as retribution for criticisms he made regarding threats to the independence of the judiciary on Venezuelan television. The IBAHRI has sent independent observers to a number of hearings in the Graterol trial. Mr Graterol was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison for obstruction of justice in December 2012. His appeal was denied on 15 July 2013.
The IBAHRI trial observation report found that the prosecution of Graterol was arbitrary and lacking basic due process safeguards.The report considers that as well as multiple due process violations of national and international law, the prosecution and conviction of Mr Graterol contravenes several guarantees for the functioning of lawyers contained in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
Funded by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, the IBA PPID Activity Fund and the IBAHRI Trust