In June 2012, José Amalio Graterol - lawyer of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni – was arrested when he refused to continue with the trial in the absence of his client, as trials in absentia were not permitted under Venezuelan criminal law. It is widely speculated that the charges were brought against Mr Graterol to frustrate the defence of Judge Afiuni and as retribution for criticisms he made regarding threats to the independence of the judiciary on Venezuelan television. The IBAHRI has sent independent observers to a number of hearings in the Graterol trial. Mr Graterol was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison for obstruction of justice in December 2012. His appeal was denied on 15 July 2013.