CARACAS, Venezuela — Six American oil executives held for three years in Venezuela have been found guilty of corruption charges and immediately sentenced to prison.
The judge’s ruling Thursday came with sentences of more than eight years for each defendant.
The verdicts dashed the hopes of relatives for a quick release that would send the men home to the United States.
The so-called Citgo 6 had been lured to Venezuela three years ago for a business meeting and arrested. They are employees of the Houston-based Citgo refining company, which is owned by Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA.
Attorneys and relatives of the executives say the men were wrongly convicted.
“We, the family, are heartbroken to be separated even further from our loved ones,” Alirio Rafael Zambrano, whose two brothers were among the defendants, told The Associated Press. “We pray that the leaders of our nation step forward and continue to fight unceasingly for their freedom and human rights.”
An attorney who represented three of the defendants called the judge's decision "void of any evidence."