|AI INDEX: AMR 53/002/2002 8 March 2002|
PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 53/002/2002
UA 70/02 Threats and intimidation/fear for safety
VENEZUELA Jonathan Granadino Rosendo (m), aged 22
other witnesses to a murder trial
Jonathan Granadino Rosendo, whose testimony helped to convict a police officer of murder in 2001, has been harassed and intimidated by police officers, colleagues of the convicted officer. Amnesty International is concerned for his safety.
On 2 March he was arrested with three others at a betting shop near his home in Miranda state, allegedly for illegal drinking. In the police van, one of the three officers reportedly said to the others, ''éste le hecho paja a nuestro compañero'' (this one grassed up our colleague). Once they reached the police station, the other detainees were released after a few hours, but Jonathan was not released until the following day, after friends and relatives had been to the police station to ask why he had been arrested.
While he was in custody, the officer who had spoken about him in the van told the station commander that Jonathan had testified against their colleague.
On 5 March a patrol car was stationed outside Jonathan Granadino Rosendo's house and remained for some time. He was too scared to leave the house. Human rights groups believe this was intended to intimidate him.
In 2000, Jonathan Granadino Rosendo was a key witness to the killing of a young woman, Diraicys Machado, during a large police operation in his neighbourhood. Two police officers were charged with the killing. During the trial in 2001, before the sentence was passed a police agent threatened the witnesses. The authorities took no action, allegedly because the threats were ''only words''. One officer was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for the killing and the other was acquitted.
Other witnesses in the case, including Diraicys Machado's mother, also reported fearing reprisals from the police.
In the past police intimidation of witnesses has frequently prevented progress in investigations into human rights violations, and prevents victims coming forward in other cases.
According to the Venezuelan Human Rights Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo), nearly 400 people died in 2000 and 2001 in circumstances which suggested the police and security forces had been involved. They also reported that impunity for these crimes is almost total.
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