3 III. POSITION OF THE PARTIES A. The Petitioners 10. The petitioners allege that on November 23, 1998, the Anti-Homicide Brigade/Branch of the Zulia Technical Judicial Police Unit, issued a "warrant to proceed" for the death of Carmen Fernández. As a result of preliminary investigations, on the same day, Fernando, María Angélica and Belkis Mirelis Gonzáles were arrested. 11. They maintain that on December 10, 1998, the First Criminal Judge of First Instance for the State of Zulia (hereinafter the "First Instance Judge") ordered arrest warrants against these three individuals; the first as aider and abettor and the other two as perpetrators in the crime of first degree murder. On January 8, 1999, the accused lodged an appeal against the preventive detention decision, and the Fourth Superior Criminal Judge for the State of Zulia (hereinafter the "Fourth Judge") upheld the First Instance Judge's decision. 12. They point out that on January 29, 1999, the Intelligence Section of the Zulia State Police preventively detained took Olimpíades and Luís Guillermo Gonzáles, and Wilmer Antonio Barliza Gonzáles, and placed them under the jurisdiction of the Technical Judicial Police Unit. Subsequently, by a decision of February 12, 1999, the First Instance Judge ordered their detention as aiders and abettors in the crimes of first-degree murder (of Carmen Fernández) and illegal possession of firearms, at the Maracaibo National Penitentiary. 13. They indicate that on March 5, 1999, the three detainees lodged an appeal against the detention order and on April 21, 1999, the Ninth Superior Criminal Judge of the State of Zulia (hereinafter the "Ninth Judge") decided: i) to uphold the detention of Wilmer Antonio Barliza Gonzáles as material aider and abettor in the above-mentioned crimes; and ii) lift the detention order issued against Olimpíades and Luís Guillermo Gonzáles, given the absence of "several, wellfounded, serious and consistent evidence of guilt" implicating their criminal responsibility. 14. They allege that on July 30, 1999, the Fourth Public Prosecutor of the same judicial circuit (hereinafter also the "Fourth Prosecutor") filed charges against Fernando, María Angélica and Belkis Mirelis Gonzáles and Wilmer Antonio Barliza Gonzáles, for the crimes of intentional homicide as material perpetrators and illegal possession of firearms. Said charges were to be considered by the Ninth Control Tribunal for the State of Zulia (hereinafter "the Ninth Court"). 15. They point out that on August 2, 1999, the defense of the accused requested an alternative precautionary measure by virtue of the entry into force of Article 265 of the Organic Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter "COPP"), and on August 16, 1999, a preliminary hearing was held before the Ninth Court, which decided: i) to admit the charges against the four individuals named in the previous paragraph for the crime of intentional homicide; ii) to order a trial against them; and iii) to maintain the preventive detention, since they were an alleged 'flight risk'. They indicate that the trial was assigned to the Second Trial Judge for the State of Zulia (hereinafter "the Second Judge"), who fixed the oral and public trial for September 28, 1999. They indicate that the trial concluded on September 29, 1999, with an acquittal verdict, a decision that became final on October 20, 1999, in the absence of an appeal. 16. The petitioners allege that by virtue of the criminal procedure law in force at the time when the verdict was delivered, the State ought to have provided compensation for having kept them in preventive detention for a criminal trial that ended in an acquittal decision. They stress that

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