Soldiers Posted At Supreme Court as Justices Weigh Embezzlement Trial
May. 19, 1993
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Soldiers guarded the Supreme Court and extra police patrolled the city Tuesday, two days before the court was to decide whether to try President Carlos Andres Perez for embezzlement.
Journalist Jose Vicente Rangel, the first to allege that Perez misused $17.2 million in public funds, submitted more evidence on the case to the Superior Public Property Safeguard Court, which handles corruption charges.
Rangel said he will give details on new accusations he has raised against the president to another court soon.
In those latest allegations, Rangel says that at the end of Perez's first term in 1979, he ordered that $7 million be withdrawn from an Interior Ministry account and deposited in a Swiss bank account in his name.
Perez wanted the money to pay government officials to help his Democratic Action party, Rangel says, according to an account published Monday in the Caracas newspaper El Nacional.
In November, Rangel published allegations that Perez misused $17.2 million in public funds in February 1989, at the start of his second term. He used the money to pay for a lavish inauguration ceremony, Rangel said.
The Supreme Court is deciding whether there's sufficient evidence to try Perez and two of his ex-ministers for misuse of the $17.2 million.
If the court votes in favor of a trial and the Senate approves, the president would be suspended from office during the trial. His term expires in February 1994.
Perez, 70, has said the $17.2 million was spent properly, mostly on foreign operations for the country's security. He hasn't responded to the new allegations.
Police posted national guardsmen at the Supreme Court in anticipation of possible street demonstrations stemming from the ruling expected Thursday. Also, officials decided to increase police patrols from the usual 2,000 to 5,000 this week.