Venezuela asks Interpol to issue ‘red alert’ for ex-judge Aponte

April 21, 2012

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan prosecutors Friday asked Interpol to issue a “red alert” for former Supreme Court judge Eladio Aponte, who was fired in March for alleged links to drug traffickers and who levied accusations of judicial and political corruption in an interview Wednesday in the United States.
“The Public Ministry [on Friday] requested that [Interpol] add to their database a red alert for former Supreme Court magistrate Eladio Aponte Aponte,” a press release from the Venezuelan Prosecutor’s Office said.

On Wednesday, a Venezuelan tribunal issued an arrest warrant for Aponte, without making public the charges.

In a TV interview Wednesday with a Miami-based news channel in the U.S., Aponte acknowledged the damage he caused to his country’s judicial system by allowing government officials with links to drug traffickers and guerrilla groups to influence court rulings. The Venezuelan government responded to Aponte’s claims by calling the former judge “a fugitive from justice” and “an absolutely discredited man.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro said Aponte “sold his soul to the [U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency] by traveling this week to the U.S. on a DEA plane from Costa Rica, where Aponte had been staying on a tourist visa since fleeing Venezuela. Maduro alleged that DEA agents could have filtered information that Aponte used during his TV interview.

On Friday, Venezuelan Vice President Elías Jaua scolded Washington, asking “if the government of the United States is going to protect all the criminals prosecuted by the Venezuelan state.” Jaua urged the U.S. to “respect Venezuelan state institutions.”

Venezuela’s top prosecutor ordered the investigative tribunal assigned to Aponte’s case to seize the former judge’s assets and freeze his bank accounts.

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