Archive for October 4th, 2008

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part XI: Kauffmann testifies as trial winds down

October 4, 2008

It was the time for Carlos Kauffman to testify day before yesterday
and yesterday and Kauffman, the former partner of Duran in all his business
dealings, did not disappoint with his disclosers.

First he said that the whole thing was quite simple, he
and Duran we sought to “fix” the problem of Antonini and the suitcase because
of their ties.

to Kauffmann
he talked directly to then Vice-President Jorge Rodriguez who
told him that he knew everything and that PDVSA was involved in the case. He
ratified the money was for the campaign of Cristina Kirchner.

Kauffmann said that he and Duran offered
to help
on the cover-up and their reward would be “new contacts, more money
and more power..It was going to be beneficial to us”. Jeez, the robolution
can be so generous, no?

Kauffmann revealed that the whole cover up began on August
30 2007, when he met with the Head of Venezuela’s Intelligence Police, General
Henry Rangel. Rangel has been accused by the US Government of cooperating with
the FARC’s drug trafficking

According to Kauffman, they met in Rangel’s office in the presence
of Moises Maionica   and they
told Rangel they would help solve the scandal and he could count on them. He
said they were concerned because the name of Antonini was associated with them
and they were afraid their business dealings would be affected by the maletagate

The Prosecution also introduced the Venezuelan Naval
Intelligence credential that was found on Duran when he was detained. According
to local paper El Nacional the credential is not honorific and it is quite real
and in the end it may be the strongest evidence of the prosecution, after all,
the main accusation against Duran and buddies is that they were Government

While much
was made
of the “differences” between Antonini’s version and that of the
customs agent that found the suitcase, the discrepancy is as to why Antonini
was carrying the suitcase. Antonini has claimed that he was helping someone in
carrying the suitcase, while the customs agent said that she asked whose
suitcase it was and Antonini said it was his.

But what was key, was that the custom agent did not say
that she had checked all of the luggage, just that all of it went through the
x-ray machine and she noticed something in the now infamous $800,000 suitcase.
By the time she had that one open, the rest of the luggage and the people had
moved on.  Thus, all of it went
through the machine but only this suitcase was opened.

At some point the judge in the trial seem to suggest there
was sufficient evidence to find Duran guilty of being a foreign Government
agent and asked the defense if he would bring new evidence to the contrary.

The defense brought Duran’s nephew to testify that it was
Antonini who asked for help, not the other way around. This angle seems
surprising, given evidence that the men were acting on behalf of the Venezuelan
Government, independently of who initiated the request for help.

The trial seems to be winding down and it will resume on