Venezuela - Imprisoned trade unionist Rodney Álvarez still seeking justice after eleven years

On 11 June 2011, trade unionist Rodney Álvarez was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for homicide in a travesty of justice. To this day, he is still seeking a fair trial while facing dire circumstances in prison. According to national unions, the proceedings brought against Rodney Álvarez reflect the lack of separation of powers in the country and implied a clear denial of justice, with eight interruptions and up to 25 preliminary hearings, and with Álvarez having been the victim of three serious knife and gun attacks perpetrated with total impunity during the more than ten years in which he was held in pretrial custody.

On 9 June 2011, Álvarez attended a workers’ assembly on the premises of the state-owned company Ferrominera Orinoco, of Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), in order to choose the commission tasked with holding elections for the executive committee of the Sintraferrominera trade union. Renny Rojas, a 28-year-old worker for the company, was murdered in the assembly, and two more workmates were injured. Rodney Álvarez was accused of the murder, despite the total absence of evidence against him. Nothing in the judicial file confirms that Álvarez was armed, let alone that he fired the shots. The judge also dismissed all the defence witnesses who were present at the scene and who saw that another person perpetrated the killing; the statement by the National Guard officer on security duty at the enterprise at the time, who declared that he had detained that other person for firing shots, was disregarded.

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