Aruba freed Hugo Carvajal, who headed Venezuelan military intelligence under the late President Hugo Chavez, after ruling that the retired major general has diplomatic immunity.
Carvajal was detained on the Caribbean island July 23 while awaiting accreditation to serve as Venezuela’s general council there. Carvajal has been wanted by U.S. authorities since 2008 for allegedly aiding Colombian Marxist rebels and trafficking cocaine.
Carvajal is persona non grata in Aruba, a Netherlands province, and must leave as soon as possible, the island’s Justice Minister Arthur Dowers said at a news conference broadcast live on YouTube.com website.
“Carvajal was rescued by the political and diplomatic action put in motion by the Bolivarian government,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on state television, referring to the founder of independent Venezuela idolized by the ruling Socialist party, Simon Bolivar. “I want once again to thank the government of the Netherlands for following the international law despite all the pressures. It was a delicate situation.”
The retired general stepped off a private jet wearing a red T-shirt of a kind favored by Chavez in the Caracas international airport, state television broadcast showed. He drove off in a white Toyota pick-up truck with darkened windows, protected by a motorcade of three black sports utility vehicles.
The U.S. State Department didn’t immediately comment on Carvajal’s release.
To contact the reporter on this story: Anatoly Kurmanaev in Caracas at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at firstname.lastname@example.org Mike Millard