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2 Apr, 2019 07:34

Venezuelan Supreme Court seeks to strip Juan Guaido’s immunity

Venezuelan Supreme Court seeks to strip Juan Guaido’s immunity

Venezuela's Supreme Court of Justice has urged MPs to strip Juan Guaido of his immunity from prosecution, a move which could lead to criminal charges brought against the US-backed opposition leader and self-declared president.

"[The court] orders to hand a certified copy of this decision to the head of the national Constituent Assembly in order to recall the parliamentary immunity of Juan Gerardo Guaido Marquez," Supreme Court Justice (TSJ) Maikel Moreno announced on Monday, explaining that the opposition leader had violated the January 29 ban on leaving the country.

Guaido, who declared himself interim president in January, visited several Latin American neighbors in an attempt to muster support for regime change in Venezuela.

The opposition leader holds immunity as head of the National Assembly, but stands accused by Caracas of inciting violence and engaging in an illicit financial activity. In February, he travelled to Colombia to lead the so-called US humanitarian aid convoy into Venezuela.

While in Colombia, the 35-year-old met with US Vice President Mike Pence. After touring Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Ecuador, Guaido returned to Venezuela only on March 4 to a large reception of foreign ambassadors and cameramen.

Following the homecoming, the government went on to arrest Guido's chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, before charging him with being part of “a terrorist network”. President Nicolas Maduro also accused Guaido of developing a plot to assassinate him.

Prior to Monday's call to strip Guaido of his immunity, the Maduro's government has barred the US-backed leader from holding public office for 15 years over irregularities in financial records.

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Guaido has received backing from Washington and its European as well as many Latin American countries. However, some two-thirds of the world still recognizes Maduro’s government, or has remained neutral. Russia, China and Cuba have been among Caracas’ most vocal advocates on the international stage, cautioning Washington against meddling into the internal affairs of Venezuela.

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