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8 May, 2019 03:31

Venezuela to prosecute turncoat lawmakers following failed coup – court

Venezuela to prosecute turncoat lawmakers following failed coup – court

Venezuela will prosecute six lawmakers who backed opposition leader Juan Guaido’s failed coup last week, the Supreme Court has ruled, hinting that more prosecutions were in the works for “high treason” and “conspiracy.”

The Venezuelan Supreme Court has announced the prosecution of six lawmakers on charges including treason against the fatherland, conspiracy, insurrection, civil rebellion, usurpation of functions, and public instigation, the body said in a statement issued on Tuesday. The document named Henry Ramos Allsup, a former National Assembly speaker, Luis Florida, Marianela Magallanes, Simon Calzadilla, Americo de Grazia, and Richard Blanco.

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The Constituent Assembly subsequently stripped all six of their parliamentary immunity, plus Edgar Zambrano, who joined Guaido at the military base where he kicked off the botched uprising with a call for the military to abandon President Nicolas Maduro’s government last Tuesday. Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello added that three more lawmakers complicit in the coup had been identified and would also be prosecuted. The Assembly has promised to suspend the immunity of any other lawmakers found to be involved in the short-lived attempt to overthrow Maduro, which triggered two days of rioting and resulted in five deaths.

The criminal probe will be led by Attorney General Tarek William Saab. In addition to the prosecutions, Saab said, authorities have issued 18 arrest warrants against “civilians and military plotters” involved in the coup. 

US Vice President Mike Pence has threatened the Venezuelan Supreme Court with sanctions for doing their job, accusing the judges of acting as “a political tool for a regime that usurps democracy, indicts political prisoners and promotes authoritarianism.”

Pence also rewarded President Nicolas Maduro’s former spy chief, General Manuel Ricardo Figueroa, for becoming the highest-ranking member of the government to defect last week, holding him up as an example to the rest of the military, who have thus far proved profoundly uninterested in joining the US-backed opposition.

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Guaido, who declared himself president in January, was stripped of his parliamentary immunity last month for violating a ban on leaving the country, but Maduro’s government has neither charged nor arrested him.

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