Venezuelan drug trafficking suspect Walid Makled said Wednesday that he maintained close ties with former Supreme Court judge Eladio Aponte and paid him roughly $70,000 a month for favors, reported the Associated Press. Aponte has denied having any ties with Makled and said he never received any money.
GlobalPost previously reported about the former judge's possible ties to Makled and his clashes with Hugo Chavez. Aponte, 63, was dismissed by Venezuela's National Assembly on March 20 after accusing the president and his officials of meddling in criminal cases. He fled to Cuba earlier this month and is now in the United States, which he flew to on a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) plane. He is expected to share potentially embarrassing information with the DEA that could lead to drug charges against members of the Venezuelan government.
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Brief footage of Makled — wearing handcuffs and escorted by police — was broadcast on state television. According to Fox News, he referred to Aponte as "my associate" and said he paid him 300 million bolivars each month, the equivalent of $69,767.
The drug trafficking suspect made his statement one week after Aponte made his accusations against Chavez and his officials, describing two phone calls he received from the president's office requesting he intervene in criminal cases, reported CBS News. He claimed one of the calls was made before he was appointed to the Supreme Court and while he was Venezuela's top military prosecutor.