HomeCrimeTSJ ordered a repeat trial against five soldiers

TSJ ordered a repeat trial against five soldiers

Criminal Chamber detected irregularities that affect the rights of the defendants

The Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice ordered a repeat of the trial opened against five soldiers accused of planning the assault on the Paramaconi fort, located in Maturín (Monagas).

The purpose of this military action was “to take with them weapons, ammunition and tactical vehicles, to be delivered to opposition cells, with which they were going to prevent the continuity of the legally constituted form of government,” according to the preliminary report of the investigation.

The decision to reinstate the trial against five soldiers linked to the aforementioned military actions is contained in sentence 226 of last May 10, written by Judge Elsa Gómez and supported by her colleagues from the Criminal Chamber, Carmen Marisela Castro and Maikel Moreno.

The ruling clarifies that the Criminal Chamber received an appeal on January 24 filed by Miguel Ángel Forero Terán, lawyer for four of the five soldiers prosecuted for the frustrated assault on the Paramaconi fort. They are Lieutenant Colonel Durvis Meleán Vargas, Lieutenant Johan José González, Third Sergeant Major Álvaro Martín Maestre Vallenilla as well as Second Sergeants Yusimar Elisneth Montilla Ortega and Yurimar del Valle Rengel González.

These people were sentenced to 7 years and 9 months in prison after being found guilty of the crime of instigating rebellion. Such an investigation began on June 13, 2019 due to information collected according to which the assault on the 322nd Battalion of Caribes Colonel Francisco Carvajal and its units stationed in Maturín was planned.

Civilians and soldiers were involved in that action and would take the aforementioned establishment by storm “with the use of force and violence, the weapons parks and magazines of the military units quartered in said military fort and deliver the weapons and ammunition to local criminals and people belonging to the opposition side,” the sentence states.

“Likewise, through the use of weapons of war, kidnap and neutralize the parkers and military personnel who did not align themselves with the conspiracy,” the report indicates.

The trial against the five soldiers took place between November 2, 2021 and April 6, 2022 before the 5th Military Trial Court of Monagas, based in Maturín, the day the sentence was imposed on them.

This criminal sanction against the military was ratified by the Martial Court on June 15, 2023. It is for this reason that lawyer Forero Terán knocked on the doors of the Criminal Chamber of the highest court.

Nullity of office. But, before knowing the substance of the complaints raised in the appeal by the military's lawyer, the Criminal Chamber agreed to examine all the actions carried out in the process followed against Meleán, Maestre, Montilla and Rengel. Taking into account that, last March, the Constitutional Chamber ordered a repeat trial against five soldiers accused of participating in the takeover of the Bolivarian National Guard located in Cotiza, Caracas.

On that occasion, the Constitutional magistrates recriminated that the Criminal Chamber overlooked that among that group of defendants there were soldiers and civilians, who were tried by a military court, thus contravening the right of every citizen to be tried by their judges. natural, as read in sentence 204.

In the case of the file opened in the courts of the state of Monagas, the magistrates of the Criminal Chamber observed that the same irregularity of mixing civilians and military personnel in a single trial was committed.

And that is why the Criminal Chamber annulled the preliminary hearing held on November 21, 2019, in the 15th Military Court of Control of the Military Criminal Judicial Circuit of the Monagas state, based in Maturín. In that hearing, the aforementioned court ordered the opening of a trial against Meleán, González, Montilla and Rengel, as perpetrators of the crimes of instigation of rebellion and treason. And 3rd Sergeant Major Álvaro Martín Maestre Vallenilla as an accomplice in the aforementioned crimes.

The Criminal Chamber observes that, at the time of the events, Durvis Meleán Vargas no longer belonged to the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, because he had been separated on June 16, 2018 by decision of an Investigation Council. The magistrates allege that, given this situation, the Military Court should have declared itself incompetent to prosecute Meleán Vargas and, consequently, decline in an ordinary court.

The Criminal Chamber also criticized the fact that the Public Prosecutor's Office requested that the five accused of the crime of disobedience be dismissed and, even more serious, that the Military Court agreed to it.

For these reasons, the Chamber ordered the transfer of the file to the Criminal Judicial Circuit of the Caracas Metropolitan Area so that a non-military court can hold a new preliminary hearing and decide whether or not to order the opening of a trial against Meleán, González, Rengel, Montilla. and Martín, according to the sentence.

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