Ecuadorian Judge Juan Nunez, who was recently caught on video confirming that he will rule against Chevron and that the company’s appeals will be denied, has spoken with a number of media outlets since these videos came to light. His responses have evolved significantly. He has contradicted himself and his statements continue to be at odds with what is clearly depicted in the videotapes.
When the videos were released on Monday, August 31, Mr. Nunez was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying he hadn’t seen the videos and, “I have never said that I will dictate a ruling in favor nor against Chevron nor the plaintiffs.”
The video evidence and transcripts suggest otherwise:
Hansen: “Oh no, I, I know clearly how it is, you say, Chevron is the guilty party?”
Núñez: “Yes Sir.”
In the same Wall Street Journal interview, Nunez went on to say that “I have not met with government officials, nor from the government’s party to deal with the Chevron case.”
The video screen shot below proves that statement is not accurate – showing Judge Nunez discussing the Chevron case next to Juan Pablo Novoa. During the meeting, Novoa states, “The offer from the people in the government that I represent, I’m a delegate of them, so I’m accompanying the judge here so that you can be serious about the case…”
On Tuesday, September 1, after viewing the videos, Judge Nunez’s story changed. In an interview with Teleamazonas, he admitted that he “got together on two occasions with four persons to talk about the case. The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Nunez said he met with them at the request of Aulo Gelio Avila, a former property inspector, to talk about property registrations, not topics related to the suit against Chevron.”
Yet in the two meetings caught on video, Nunez says the word Chevron nine times.
On September 2, the contradictions would continue. Ecuador’s Hoy newspaper reported that “Simultaneously, [Judge Nunez] said that he did not speak of the case against Chevron, nor did he pronounce any ruling or its content, and insisted that Chevron was trying to induce him to having committed a crime.” Meanwhile, La Hora wrote, “At the Quito meeting, Chevron’s case was discussed, but in general terms, such as the date in which it would be resolved and the documentation that was yet to be obtained from various government institutions, as well as the alternative the judge has to either accept the claim of 27 thousand million (billion) dollars, or reduce said amount, or ultimately reject the lawsuit, all of which is to be known when the corresponding judgment is issued.”
One thing is clear: there needs to be a thorough and independent investigation of the role of the judge and those who claim to represent the senior-most levels of the Ecuadorian government.
In every country where the rule of law prevails, a judge who has done what Judge Nunez is seen doing in the videotapes would be dismissed from the case and his previous rulings would be annulled.