The landmark bill takes a "major step forward in rescuing democracy," said the wife of a detained opposition leader. But scores of political prisoners may not see the light of day after the president vowed to veto it.
Venezuela's opposition-dominated legislature late Tuesday local time passed an amnesty bill to release scores of political prisoners in a landmark move thatPresident Nicolas Maduro
has vowed to strike down.
"With this amnesty law, we are taking a major step forward in rescuing democracy and liberty," said Lilian Tintori, the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
"I cannot wait to arrive home and tell my children that only a few days remain until their daddy returns," Tintori said in a tweet following the bill's approval.
Leopoldo Lopez, who wassentenced to 13 years in prison
for alleged involvement in anti-government riots, and several other opposition figures have been arbitrarily detained for voicing criticism of the government, according to UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein.
"The prolonged and arbitrary detention of political opponents and protesters in Venezuela is causing more and more concern internationally," al-Hussein had said in a 2014 statement following Lopez's detention.
'This law will now pass here'
However, President Maduro vowed to veto the bill, saying it protects "murderers" and "terrorists."
"They (the opposition) are passing the criminal amnesty law, which will protect murderers, criminals, drug traffickers and terrorists - it's the truth. But rest assured that this law will not pass here," Maduro said in comments carried by state-owned radio station Alba Ciudad.
In December, Venezuela's opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) gained control of the National Assembly following alandslide victory
at the polls.
However, the Supreme Courtblocked three of its lawmakers from being sworn in
due to Socialist-led court cases alleging voter fraud, effectively preventing the opposition alliance from claiming a super majority in the National Assembly.
Prior to the opposition's electoral win, the Socialists had dominated the National Assembly since 1999, when former President Hugo Chavez came to power.