On 6/21/2017 10:42 AM, jat wrote:
Venezuela seeks prosecution of nation's attorney general
By Antonio Maria Delgado
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday ordered the Supreme Court
to prepare to prosecute Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, even though
the court is not empowered to do so, according to sources familiar with
The decision, which could deepen the fissures inside the Maduro
administration, came hours after Ortega gave signs that she intends to
investigate corruption within the regime.
The Supreme Court confirmed Tuesday that it had accepted a petition
filed by pro-government legislator Pedro Carreño asking the Venezuelan
high court to decide whether there are sufficient reasons to go after
the attorney general — in a proceeding known as a "Prosecution of Merit"
— on allegations of "serious faults in the exercise of her position,"
the top court said in a brief statement.
The court is not empowered to approve such prosecutions, warned Leonardo
Palacios, a constitution expert in Caracas.
"That decision belongs to the National Assembly," said Palacios. "That
[the pronouncement of the court] has no reason to be … it is an unjust
and unconstitutional trick. It has no rationale and serves as evidence
that here [in Venezuela] there is no rule of law."
The decision threatens to further deepen the divisions between Maduro
supporters and those who think he betrayed the legacy of the late
President Hugo Chávez.
Ortega, meanwhile, has surrounded herself with a group of Chávez
loyalists, known as chavistas, who have become increasingly alarmed by
the country's expanding crisis and by Maduro's plans to replace the
Constitution via a constituent assembly handpicked by Maduro, said
Antonio De La Cruz, executive director of the Washington-based think
tank Inter American Trends.
Particularly dangerous for Maduro is the risk that Ortega will begin to
investigate alleged corruption within the regime.
"She has a lot of information, which is a threat to the survival of the
regime, because with 10 years of experience as attorney general she
knows all the secrets of the Maduro administration," De La Cruz said.
On Monday, Ortega said she was ready to focus on corruption in the
Venezuelan government, a country that has been labeled the most corrupt
in Latin America by the Transparency International NGO.
"Why is there no food and medicine? Is it because resources are used for
different purposes? I do not know, I cannot be sure, but it would be
good for the anti-corruption prosecutors to investigate," Ortega said in
a speech at the attorney general's office in downtown Caracas.
The prosecutor also stressed the need to investigate the alleged links
between drug trafficking and the top tier of the regime.
"The drug issue has to be investigated," she added.
Vice President Tareck El Aissami has been sanctioned by the United
States for alleged links to drug trafficking.
Her statements probably shook Chávez loyalists and increased tensions
between the Maduro regime and the attorney general, De La Cruz said.
"With yesterday's speech … the attorney general illustrated that there
are cases that she can use to prosecute officials who are part of
Maduro's inner circle," he said.
Follow Antonio María Delgado on Twitter:@DelgadoAntonioM"