A Venezuelan court has sentenced two former U.S. special forces soldiers to 20 years in prison
Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro displays seized armament and passports after a meeting with members of the Armed Forces in Caracas, Venezuela on May 4, 2020. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro confirmed the detention of two US “mercenaries” among 13 attackers involved in Sunday’s two failed maritime raids.
A Venezuelan court has sentenced two former U.S. special forces soldiers to 20 years in prison for their part in a failed beach attack aimed at overthrowing President Nicolás Maduro, prosecutors announced.
Lawyers for the former Green Berets, Luke Denman and Airan Berry, said they were barred from the secretive jailhouse proceedings Friday night in what they consider a violation of their constitutional rights to a defense.
Maduro's chief prosecutor announced the surprise decision late Friday night.
“THEY ADMITTED THEIR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FACTS,” Tarek William Saab announcedon Twitter, adding that proceedings will continue against dozens of other defendants accused of assisting in the May 3 raid. He did not offer details.
“Operation Gideon" was launched from makeshift training camps in neighboring Colombia and left at least eight rebel soldiers dead while more than 60 more were jailed.
Denman and Berry, both decorated former U.S. service members, were found guilty of conspiracy, trafficking in illegal arms and terrorism, Saab said.
But lawyers for the men said the hearing was marred by irregularities.
The incident also prompted claims that U.S. backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó had authorized Goudreau through a signed agreement to carry out the attack, executed by two of Guaidó's former political advisors in the U.S.
U.S. officials have denied any role in the attack but have not said what knowledge they had about the clandestine camps in Colombia, details of which were made public by an AP investigationtwo days prior to the raid. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would use all possible means to win the freedom of Denman and Berry.
U.S. officials also have demanded freedom for six jailed American oil executives from Houston-based Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil monopoly, who had been lured to Caracas for a meeting and then arrested on corruption charges, which all deny.