The 45 days within which an investigation must be completed according to Venezuelan law passed yesterday for three of the eight suspects; Isabel Giraldo, Santiago Giraldo and Cruz Elba Giraldo.
Santiago was one of the first two prisoners arrested, on March 25, while the two women were detained March 27.
No information has been released on Luis Carlos Cossio, the Colombian-Canadian citizen who took the “suspicious” photos. Cossio took a photo of a Venezuelan military communications tower while visiting the state of Maracay. He is apparently still being held in custody, along with three other immigrants arrested in the Colombian-owned ice cream shop in Barinitas, in western Venezuela, though the charges against him have not been made public.
President Chavez accused the detainees of being involved in “sabotage,” which he says caused some of the recent politically embarrassing energy blackouts in Venezuela.
According to Chavez, the “computers, many photographs, secret or semi-secret codes, strage activities and contradictions” between the detainees constituted “strong indications of espionage.” Identification found on the suspects showing that Cruz Elba Giraldo and Carlos Cossio had served in the Colombian army was also treated as suspicious by the Venezuelan authorities.
The “Maky Helados” ice cream factory owned by the Giraldos has been described as a “front” for activities far less innocent than whipping cream and fruit together. Solid evidence for this charge is yet to emerge.
The incident became more serious as Colombian President Uribe claimed that his fellow citizens’ human rights were being violated in a targeted campaign of persecution against Colombians, to which Chavez responded by accusing the Colombian government of “playing the victim.” Bogota further ratcheted up the pressure by calling for “urgent intervention” from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.