Brazil’s Senate President Vows to Help Venezuela’s Political Prisoner

Eligio CedeÀ±o Former Brazilian president and current President of the Brazilian Senate, José Sarney, met this Friday, October 23, Robert Amsterdam, a Canadian international lawyer representing the Venezuelan political prisoner Eligio CedeÀ±o

Eligio Cedeí±o, then president of Bolivar-Banpro Financial Group was arrested in 2007 accused of violating currency laws to make a profit in US dollars. On February 8, 2007, Cedeí±o was charged by the Venezuelan Attorney General with aiding Consorcio MicroStar in illegal dollar trade. The government case seems marred with irregularities.

During their encounter in Brazilian capital Brasí­lia, Amsterdam told Sarney of judicial violations being committed by Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan government against his client and dozens of other political prisoners. 

Last week an appeals court of Venezuela's Supreme Court of Justice ordered the immediate release of Cedeí±o, but the lower control court refused to comply and allowed an extension of the detention, followed by an unexplained reversal of the decision.

"I am grateful to senator Sarney and many others in the Brazilian government for their interest in protecting basic human rights," said Amsterdam, who had also met with Sarney last June 17, 2009. 

"The enormous risk posed by this lack of rule of law is not only limited to political opponents of Chavez, but will one day also come to damage businesses, investors, and foreign governments who work with Venezuela."

During the meeting with Cedeí±o's lawyer, Sarney expressed his concern over the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, and said he would circulate a white paper on political prisoners prepared by the defense to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for review.

Additionally, on Thursday, Brazil's Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a petition for a joint hearing with the Human Rights Committee to discuss the situation in Venezuelan. Robert Amsterdam and others have been invited to provide testimony. The date for the hearing is to be set in coming weeks.

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