LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The Citgo 6 finally got a long-awaited day in Venezuelan court.
It's approaching 19 months since they were arrested. The outcome was a huge disappointment to those hoping for their release.
Citgo’s former refinery manager Tomeu Vadell used to volunteer to care for the coast. Fast forward to 2017 when, in November, he was summoned to Venezuela under the guise of a Citgo business meeting when he and others were ambushed and imprisoned, then accused of corruption.
Citgo is owned by PDVSA, the state-owned oil company in Venezuela where, for months now, there has been political turmoil and dangerous living conditions.
For more than a year and a half, the Vadell’s have worked day and night for his freedom. His wife Dennysse says Tomeu doesn’t deserve being held on bogus charges. “It’s been almost 19 months. 566 days today. I just miss him so much, my husband so much. We have never been apart so long and it’s just heartbreaking to think that he’s suffering there.”
Photos show he’s lost weight and they worry about his health. A long-awaited hearing Friday led not to his release but a judge’s decision there will be a trial. His daughter Cristina says the judge’s decision is wrong. “It’s tough. You do everything you can each day to support your father. Just every day little bit by little bit we try to progress. And try to do something to get his immediate release. Because that’s what we keep asking. We keep asking for his immediate and unconditional release.”
Though the family has no direct communication, Dennysse was able to visit him for three hours in April at the military facility where he’s held. She says his attitude and faith are amazing. “He prays a lot, he reads, and he exercises daily. And he just tries to stay strong because he says, he always says, he’s so positive, he says, "One day this happened and I know one day out of the blue, they’re going to let us out because I have the truth on my side.”
For now, they pray and encourage those of all faiths to join them - for the release of Tomeu Vadell and, in their words, for all unjustly detained in Venezuela and around the world.
Cristina Vadell says they join together in prayer at eight each night. The judge did not announce a trial date.