Critic ousted in Venezuela

Chief pros­e­cu­tor ripped Pres­i­dent’s power grab

Ottawa Sun - - CLASSIFIED - JORGE RUEDA and JOSHUA GOODMAN

CARA­CAS, Venezuela — A newly in­stalled con­sti­tu­tional as­sem­bly ousted Venezuela’s de­fi­ant chief pros­e­cu­tor Satur­day, a sign that Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro’s em­bat­tled gov­ern­ment in­tends to move swiftly against crit­ics and con­sol­i­date power amid a fast-mov­ing po­lit­i­cal cri­sis.

Cries of “traitor” and “jus­tice has ar­rived” erupted from the 545 pro­gov­ern­ment del­e­gates dur­ing the unan­i­mous vote to re­move Luisa Ortega from her post as the na­tion’s top law en­force­ment official and re­place her with a staunch gov­ern­ment sup­porter.

They said they were act­ing in re­sponse to a rul­ing by the gov­ern­mentstacked Supreme Court, which had also been con­sid­er­ing a re­quest to sanc­tion Ortega.

Ear­lier Satur­day, Ortega, a long­time loy­al­ist who broke with the so­cial­ist gov­ern­ment in April, said she was pushed and barred from en­ter­ing her of­fice by dozens of na­tional guards­men in riot gear who took con­trol of the en­trance to the build­ing.

She al­leged that au­thor­i­ties were des­per­ate to get their hands on sen­si­tive dossiers con­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion on dirty deal­ings by high-level of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing de­tails about mil­lions of dol­lars in bribes paid by Brazil­ian con­struc­tion gi­ant Ode­brecht.

“Do you know what they want to achieve with this? They want to hide the cor­rup­tion and vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights tak­ing place in Venezuela that I will con­tinue to de­nounce,” Ortega told journalists out­side the build­ing.

As­sem­bly del­e­gates voted to re­place her with Tarek Wil­liam Saab, who was re­cently sanc­tioned by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion for fail­ing to pro­tect pro­test­ers from abuses in his role as the na­tion’s top hu­man rights official. A woman uses a fan for re­lief from the blis­ter­ing heat while rid­ing a street­car in Bucharest, Ro­ma­nia, yes­ter­day.

VADIM GHIRDA/AP

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