Tags: LT | Aruba | Venezuela | Official Detained

Aruba Arrests Ex-Venezuelan Spy Chief

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 04:38 PM

Authorities in Aruba announced Thursday that they arrested a close confidant of the late socialist President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who was appointed to a diplomatic position to the Caribbean island despite being sanctioned by the U.S. government on charges of drug trafficking.

Hugo Carvajal, the former head of military intelligence under Chavez, was arrested at the request of the U.S. prosecutors and is expected to appear in an Aruban court Friday.

Carvajal was one of a number of high-ranking Venezuelan military officials blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury in 2008 on suspicion of providing weapons to Marxist rebels in neighboring Colombia and helping them smuggle cocaine to fund their insurgency. Despite the charges, he remained close to power circles in Venezuela and in January was appointed consul to Aruba by Chavez's successor, Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela condemned the arrest, calling it a "grave violation" of international law and the Vienna Convention granting diplomats immunity from detention.

Venezuela's foreign ministry released a statement calling on the Netherlands, which manages foreign affairs for the otherwise autonomously run Aruba, to immediately free Carvajal. It warned that commercial and diplomatic ties could be affected.

There was no immediate comment from the Dutch government.

Officials in Aruba said they were initially confused about whether Carvajal had immunity because he holds a diplomatic passport from Venezuela. However, they went ahead with the detention because he had yet to receive his accreditation from the local government.

"Immunity is always linked to a function," prosecutors spokeswoman Ann Angela said in a phone interview. "And he does not have any function here in Aruba. He is not the consul general; therefore he has no immunity."

U.S. prosecutors now have 60 days to formalize their extradition request, Angela said.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Chavez was an instructor at the military academy in Caracas when Carvajal was a student there in the early 1980s. Like many other cadets from that era, Carvajal later took up arms with Chavez in a failed 1992 coup uprising that catapulted the young tank commander to fame and set the stage for his future rise to power through the ballot box.

 


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LT, Aruba, Venezuela, Official Detained
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2014-38-24
Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 04:38 PM
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