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5 Aug, 2023 04:39

Venezuelan leader accuses US over drone assassination attempt

President Nicolas Maduro has claimed the White House was directly involved in the 2018 plot
Venezuelan leader accuses US over drone assassination attempt

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused his former US counterpart, Donald Trump, of spearheading a scheme to assassinate him in 2018, claiming the order came directly from the White House.

Speaking to mark 86 years since the founding of Venezuela's National Guard, an anniversary which fell on the same day as the failed assassination attempt five years ago, Maduro alleged US and Colombian involvement in the attack.

The president spoke of “the personal and direct involvement that former President Donald Trump had, the White House, in ordering the Colombian president to prepare the attack,” which he added was carried out by a “terrorist group” organized in Venezuela’s neighboring state.

Maduro went on to claim that the subsequent investigation uncovered the role played by Colombia’s then-president, Juan Manuel Santos, saying he was “the direct operator from Bogota” who financed and planned the murder plot just days before he was set to leave office.

Washington and Bogota have denied any role in the attack, with then-US national security advisor John Bolton suggesting in 2018 that it was instead “a pretext set up by the regime itself.”

The August 4, 2018 assassination attempt occurred as Maduro delivered an outdoor speech in Caracas to members of the National Guard, with two drones equipped with explosives detonating over the area. A number of soldiers were reportedly injured in the blasts, though the attack resulted in no casualties and did not harm Maduro.

Footage of the incident captured the explosions, with Maduro’s bodyguards seen leaping to protect the president with ballistic shields before whisking him away.

Seventeen suspects were ultimately convicted on August 4 last year, following 91 separate hearings. Twelve of them were handed 30-year sentences for crimes including attempted murder and treason, while the remaining five face prison terms of 20, 16, eight and five years, respectively, for conspiracy and terrorism.