Venezuelan opposition MPs to be tried for treason
Venezuela's pro-government Constituent Assembly on Monday revoked the parliamentary immunity of four opposition lawmakers. The move allows their prosecution at the Supreme Court for alleged crimes against the state, including treason and conspiracy.
The lawmakers, who belong to different parties within the country's opposition movement, have denied the charges and said the legal process against them represents another attempt by President Nicolas Maduro to dismantle the opposition-controlled national assembly.
Maduro's Constituent Assembly, a legislative body he created to override the national assembly, voted unanimously to lift the immunity, following a request by the pro-government Supreme Court.
Chief state prosecutor Tarek William Saab accused the lawmakers Jorge Millan, Hernan Aleman, Carlos Lozano and Luis Stefanelli of conspiring to seize military installations in the northeastern state of Sucre, with the aim of "destabilizing this Christmas."
Read more: Cubans grapple with food shortage due to Venezuela crisis
Juan Guaido, Venezuela's self-proclaimed president and leader of the National Assembly, denounced the move as another attempt by Maduro to take over the opposition-led institution.
He added that some 30 lawmakers remained detained, in exile, or in refuge at embassies in Caracas, due to government persecution.
Despite a high-profile push to oust Maduro, the ruling Socialist Party continues to maintain control of the state and military.
Last month, Guaido struggled to launch a new mass mobilization, drawing a fraction of the crowds he drew earlier this year when he called for protests. This month, he had to fight allegations of corruption in his ranks.
Read more: Venezuela and Colombia border tension fuels fear of armed conflict
Venezuelan investigative website Armando.info published a report on December 1 claiming that nine pro-Guaido lawmakers attempted to negotiate leniency with Colombia and US authorities for a businessman tied to an allegedly corrupt network, which runs Maduro's food subsidies for the poor.
Weeks earlier, Humberto Calderon Berti, Guaido's diplomatic representative in Colombia, accused fellow opposition envoys of improperly using funds meant to help 148 Venezuelan soldiers who had deserted to Colombia in February.
While Guaido dismissed both Berti and the nine opposition lawmakers tied to the food scheme, the scandals have divided the opposition and weakened Guaido's leadership.
jcg/rt (AFP, Reuters, EFE)
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