Thursday, December 08, 2022

Trial of Hugo Chavez’s nurse begins Monday in South Florida

With jury polls set to begin this Monday, a money laundering trial begins in the United States against former Venezuelan national treasurer, Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén, and her husband, Adrián José Velasquez Figueroa, who was Hugo Chávez’s security chief. Were.

The trial will take place in Fort Lauderdale courts and last two weeks, the first of which is for jury selection.

“Neither Mrs. Guillén nor her husband committed the crimes of which the government alleges,” said Maricel Descalzo, the couple’s attorney.

Counsel did not wish to elaborate on the arguments on which the defense would be based, saying that she would present them in court next Monday the 28th after the jury had been selected, which she indicated would be a “difficult” task. Will happen.

The attorney filed a motion asking the court to compel the United States Attorney’s office to reveal information that would ultimately serve the defense.

Meanwhile, Alejandro Andrade Cedeño, a former Venezuelan treasurer, appears on the list of witnesses for the prosecutor’s office, according to court documents.

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Andrade would be the “star witness” according to other court documents, in which only his initials appear.

Raul Gorin Bellisario, the owner and president of the Venezuelan channel Globovision, who is considered a fugitive by US justice, is accused in the same case in federal courts in South Florida.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Gorín paid millions of dollars in bribes to ensure Chávez’s “nurse” and Andrade Cedeño the rights to conduct foreign exchange transactions at favorable rates.

The couple, extradited from Spain, she in May and he in October of this year, is known as the “nurse” and “bodyguard” of the former Venezuelan president from 1999 until his death from cancer in 2013.

In recent months, lawyers for Chávez’s “nurse”, accused of three crimes related to money laundering, have unsuccessfully tried to get Judge William P. Dimitroules to accept the argument that the US government has “external powers” to try him. lack of jurisdiction

Both she and her husband hold dual Venezuelan-Spanish nationality. Both were arrested in Spain in 2021 after the United States accused them of money laundering related crimes.

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The defense claims that neither Díaz, who has pleaded not guilty, nor Velasquez Figueroa “tendered, transported, or transferred any monetary means into the United States in furtherance of any illegal activity.” “

Díaz Guillén was part of Chávez’s health team before being named national treasurer, a position she held from 2011 to 2013, and her husband was her chief of security. He left the country after Chávez’s death, and after a brief stay in the Dominican Republic, settled in Spain.

Venezuela requested his extradition to Spain in 2018 and was approved by the National Court on October 25, 2018 for crimes of money laundering, criminal association and enrichment in his own country.

But Spain reversed its decision, noting that Venezuela “had its integrity at risk”, an argument rejected by the South American nation’s prosecutor’s office, calling it instead “a political decision, provided by the Spanish government”. was inspired by the support extended” to the opposition.

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