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Investigation into AIV synagogue attack continues

Seven police officers and four civilians were arrested for the attack against the Israeli Association of Venezuela (AIV) synagogue, according to a news report from the Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias published on the website of the Confederation of Israeli Associations of Venezuela (CAIV).

Venezuela’s Office of the Attorney General reported on Sunday that seven police officers and four civilians were arrested for their alleged participation in the intrusion and desecration of Caracas’ main synagogue on Saturday, January 31st, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

Private media outlets are reporting that the suspects will soon go to court, and that all of them “were apprehended during raids held on Saturday and early Sunday in different parts of Caracas.”

Among those arrested is a detective from the Corps for Scientific Penal and Criminal (CICPC), five officers from the Metropolitan Police (PM), a Caracas Police deputy inspector and four civilians. 

District Attorney Cristian Quijada and his assistant Gustavo Li Chang, will charge Frank Luis Piñate, Francisco José Pérez Díaz, Edgar Alexander Cordero, Charyls Angelo and José Milla, all of whom work for the Metropolitan Police, for breaking Penal Law and the Organic Law against Organized Crime.

Also to be charged are Detective Yadira Torres, from the Homicide Division of the CICPC; Luis Eduardo Castillo Guerrero, a deputy inspector from the Caracas Police assigned to a Motorized Brigade; and Víctor Eduardo Escalona Lovera, the synagogue’s security guard who had been subpoenaed by the Public Ministry.

Three civilians were also arrested: Rafael Enrique Colina Mogollón, Harvey Enrique Colina Mogollón, and Orlando José Pérez Díaz.  These people were apprehended during raids on Saturday night and early Sunday morning in different areas of Caracas.  They too will be charged by the Public Ministry.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz said on Friday that Sergio Vorcegui and Víctor Escalona, two of the synagogue’s guards, were subpoenaed and indicted.

Leader of the criminal group

The President of the Republic, Hugo Chávez, explained that the leader of the group of police officers and civilians charged with the attack on the synagogue is an official from the Metropolitan Police who worked as a personal bodyguard for the synagogue’s Rabbi for the past four years.

In an interview on television channel Venevisión on Sunday, Chávez explained that Victor Eduardo Escalona Lovera cut the security system’s electricity from the inside, not from outside.  “That facilitated their entrance; they paid him.  We also know how much they paid him,” the President added.

“There are 11 people under arrest and the government had nothing to do with [the synagogue attack].  There were opposition spokespersons and a television channel that immediately pointed fingers at the government: ‘Chávez is the guilty one’ [they said].  Well, it turns out that there are 11 people under arrest and the government has nothing to do with this act,” said President Chávez.

“This is a message for the Jewish family that lives with us and is a big part of the Venezuelan family; they should not let themselves be manipulated.  It is not the government of Chávez [who did this]; this government is not anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish or anti-any group,” he said.

The President refused to give any more details so as not to interfere in the investigation.

Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias (ABN), Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press Office / February 9, 2009

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