Daniel Ceballos, an opposition political leader, was arrested on 19 March 2014, without previous investigation and dismissed from his position as Mayor of San Cristobal, in western Venezuela. He has been deprived of freedom for almost 4 years without sentence and has spent the last 57 days isolated without being able to see his family or lawyers, with an electronic shackle on his right ankle.
Daniel Ceballos is an agricultural engineer, opposition political leader and former Mayor of the city of San Cristobal, Táchira state (Venezuelan Andes region).
On 3 December 2017, relatives made public a letter written by Ceballos, where he denounced his isolation, and the placement of an electronic shackle on his right ankle. In the letter, Ceballos announced that he will not allow them to continue taking daily photographs with newspapers of the day as he said that it has happened during his isolation and that he has destroyed the charger of the electronic shackle.
Daniel Ceballos was elected as Mayor in December 2013.
On 4 February 2014, the wave of protests against the government began in the city of San Cristobal. The protests then spread to the rest of the country and lasted until July.
On 12 March, the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ as per acronym in Spanish) issued an order according to which Mayors should avoid placing obstacles on public roads.
On 18 March, Ceballos, while in Caracas, was served for violating the order of TSJ. The following day, he was arrested by officials of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN as per acronym in Spanish), who, in addition to belonging to a body that does not have the authority to carry out arrests, did not present a court order or clarify the reasons for his arrest.
At dawn, his lawyers learned that he was in the National Center for Military Prosecutions (CENAPROMIL as per acronym in Spanish), a military prison known as Ramo Verde in the city of Los Teques, Miranda state (central region).
On 21 March, the presentation hearing was held in Caracas, which could not proceed, since the case was based in San Cristóbal. Later that day, a senior government official declared that Ceballos was being accused of civil rebellion for, allegedly, supporting violent acts.
On 24 March, four days after his arrest, Ceballos was able to meet with his lawyers for the first time.
On 25 March, the second hearing was held and the TSJ filed the case in Caracas. Without a previous investigation or having considered the evidence presented by the defense, Ceballos received an administrative sanction of 12 months in prison and was dismissed from his position as Mayor.
Ceballos was held in Ramo Verde, where he could not leave his cell for 5 months. Family visits were denied several times. When allowed, the family was subjected to invasive inspections. On the other hand, the visits with the lawyers were recorded. In addition, Ceballos was kept in isolation, without natural light, without books or television.
In May, Ceballos was charged with the additional crimes of rebellion and agavillamiento (grouping to commit a crime).
On 28 August, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations considered the detention of Ceballos as arbitrary and motivated for political reasons, for which his immediate release was recommended.
On 19 March 2015, despite the 12 months of the sanction were already served, Ceballos' detention continued, while the trial for the charges of rebellion and grouping to commit a crime continued.
On 22 May, Ceballos began a hunger strike to demand his release. The following day, he was transferred from Ramo Verde to the civil prison 26 de Julio in San Juan de los Morros, Guárico state (central region), where the conditions of imprisonment intensified: the visits lasted only 5 minutes, he was subjected to several periods in isolation, he was given a bed made of cement, the temperature was around 40 degrees in his cell, he had access to running water once a day and had to relieve himself in a latrine, according to complaints from his lawyers.
On 11 June, Ceballos ended his hunger strike after 20 days and was transferred to the SEBIN facilities, in El Helicoide, Caracas.
On 11 August, Ceballos received a humanitarian measure for health reasons and was granted house arrest.
A year later, on 27 August 2016, SEBIN officials burst into the Ceballos’ residence to move him to the 26 de Julio Prison. Representatives of the Ministry of the Popular Power for the Interior, Justice and Peace declared that the transfer took place because Ceballos intended to escape, in order to direct and coordinate acts of violence.
Then in September, Ceballos was transferred again to the headquarters of SEBIN in El Helicoide, Caracas. His cell has no windows and only receives sunlight twice a week.
In July 2017, Ceballos served 3 years and 4 months in prison without a sentence. The hearings to start the trial have been continually deferred, either because the court does not give clearance or because the custodians refuse to make the transfer of Ceballos. So, presentation regime would correspond, but it has not taken place.
On 8 October, Ceballos signed a statement in which the Venezuelan population was urged to participate in the regional elections. During the following days, relatives and lawyers reported that they had been denied the visit and that Ceballos was being isolated.
On 29 November, his relatives publicly reported that Ceballos, to date, had been isolated for 52 days.
On 3 December, his relatives made public a letter written by Ceballos, where he reported that he had been photographed holding a newspaper with the visible date every day, as well as an electronic shackle was placed on his right ankle, which he must charge on his own. In the letter, Ceballos announced that he will not allow these photographs to be taken and that he has destroyed the charger of the electronic shackle.
Tags: Venezuela, Human Rights, Arbitrary detentions, isolation.
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