Venezuela Extends Afiuni House Arrest for Two Years, Lawyer Says

Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- A Venezuelan judge extended the house arrest of Maria Lourdes Afiuni, considered a political prisoner by Human Rights Watch, for two years.

Judge Ali Fabricio Paredes made the ruling today, Jose Amalio Graterol, one of Afiuni’s lawyers, said in comments carried on the Globovision network.

Afiuni, a judge in Caracas, was arrested in December 2009 for ordering the conditional release of banker Eligio Cedeno, who was accused of fraudulently obtaining dollars from the government in 2003. She had ruled that prosecutors had exceeded the time limit to bring Cedeno’s case to court.

Afiuni was held in a women’s prison until February and was granted leave to be held at home after doctors said she required an operation for cancer.

Human Rights Watch has said Afiuni’s case shows how President Hugo Chavez’s government “has demonstrated its fundamental disregard for the principle of judicial independence.” Chavez, speaking on state television on Dec. 11, 2009, called for Afiuni to “pay” with “30 years in prison” for ordering Cedeno’s release.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jose Orozco in Caracas at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at