Venezuela frees judge from house arrest

Maria Lourdes Afiuni was arrested in 2009 after then-President Hugo Chavez objected to one of her rulings.

Last Modified: 15 Jun 2013 02:33
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Maria Lourdes Afiuni became a human rights cause celebre following her arrest in 2009 on corruption charges [AFP]

Venezuelan authorities have freed a judge who was arrested in 2009 after then-President Hugo Chavez objected to one of her rulings. 

Maria Lourdes Afiuni's case became a cause celebre for the opposition and international human rights groups.

A Caracas judge released Afiuni from house arrest on Friday so she can seek treatment for health problems, said Thelma Fernandez, an attorney for the 50-year-old magistrate widely considered Venezuela's top political prisoner.

Corruption charges

The ruling does not erase the charges of corruption, abuse of authority and aiding an inmate's escape for which Chavez ordered her jailed. There was no immediate comment from the government.

The judge was arrested after she granted bail to a jailed banker accused of fraud. He later fled the country.

This infuriated then president Hugo Chavez, who died in March of this year. At the time he said on television that Afiuni should be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

After more than a year in a women's prison, Afiuni was transferred to house arrest at her apartment in the capital in 2011. Now, Afiuni has to report to the court every 15 days and is barred from leaving the country without permission or speaking to the press.

Her trial began in November 2012. Afiuni has refused to attend, calling it rigged.

A United Nations group said from the outset that her detention was arbitrary and called for her immediate release, and other human rights groups also denounced it as showing disregard for the independence of the judiciary.


Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.