Venezuela’s high court issued an arrest order for the ousted chief prosecutor’s husband on Thursday after authorities accused him of running a US$6 million extortion ring, a ruling promptly denounced by government critics as a move aimed at silencing opponents of President Nicolas Maduro.
The government-stacked Supreme Court also announced it was referring German Ferrer’s case to the new, all-powerful constitutional assembly. The assembly was installed in early August at Maduro’s behest following a widely criticized vote, and it is expected to proceed with lifting Ferrer’s immunity from prosecution that comes with legislative office.
Ferrer is a lawmaker formerly aligned with Maduro’s administration who has stood by his wife, Luisa Ortega Diaz, in denouncing the assembly’s creation.
In a written statement to local media, Ferrer denied signing documents that officials are holding up as evidence he opened a bank account in the Bahamas to facilitate transactions.
“This government no longer has any limits or shame,” he wrote.
Tarek William Saab, who was named by the constitutional assembly to replace Ortega Diaz as chief prosecutor, said on Wednesday that the alleged criminal ring extorted money from people including businessmen in the nation’s oil industry in return for protecting them from prosecution.
Ruling party leader Diosdado Cabello provided prosecutors with papers allegedly showing that Ferrer and others opened six bank accounts at the Bahamas branch of a Swiss bank.
In his statement, Ferrer said the documents “don’t pass muster.”
Cabello’s involvement in the case led many to conclude it is politically motivated. Opposition lawmaker Henry Allup questioned the timing of the charges, asking why they appeared so soon after Ferrer broke publicly with Maduro’s government.
“This is a way to intimidate,” he said.
Ferrer and Ortega’s whereabouts on Thursday were not clear. Authorities raided their home the previous day.
The constitutional assembly, which is tasked with rewriting the nation’s charter and trumps all other branches of government, has been condemned by dozens of foreign nations which refuse to recognize it.
Maduro did not hold a referendum asking Venezuelans to approve the formation of the assembly, instead going directly to the National Electoral Council to schedule a vote for its members that was boycotted by the opposition.
International voting technology firm Smartmatic, which provided the voting machines for the election, announced shortly after the vote that the government’s official turnout count was off by at least 1 million.
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Considering Lula's admiration for Chavez, and his implicit support of Maduro - obvious, by his refusal say anything negative about the madman, far less to condemn his actions - how can anyone not admit the possibility that that is what he has in mind for Brazil and the rest of South America. when he talks of the 'greater America' ?Aug 18th, 2017 - 08:21 pm +2
Well, that's one arrest warrant that isn't going to be executed. The Ortega's have escaped Venezuela and claimed asylum in Columbia. Ms Ortega is making claims about Maduro's role in Brazil's Odebrecht scandal. I love it when bullies get out-played!Aug 20th, 2017 - 12:15 pm +2
@DTAug 24th, 2017 - 05:42 pm +2
Lula is not that pragmatic or well intentioned, his motive, deep down, is to try to prevent Trump from upsetting the status quo, which at the moment, with his buddy in power, favours his Bolivarian project. Believe me, after accompanying his trajectory for over 40 years, I know what to expect of him. He thinks he’s smart, and his 'smartness' works well with the ignorant ‘n those who hope to benefit directly from whatever he does, but he is the champion when it comes down to opposing something (good) when his political adversaries promote it, to only later, when it’s proved to have worked, try to appropriate the paternity for himself….if the people are ignorant, they believe him….ex : the “plano real”, the “Bolsa familia”…
Lula got (mainly) Odebrecht to take on huge projects abroad, with the financing of the BNDES, in order to consolidate his ‘personal’ relationship with other leaders, and make his ‘negotiations’ to arrange schemes to finance his plans of the PT becoming a leading force in South America, and for what purpose, is obvious. His influence ($$$) in Chavez’ re-election was just the icing on the cake.
Lula is the driving force behind ‘lulopetismo’ (his way of the PT doing politics), he has no replacement - he tried with Dilma, and look at the disaster she was - so if Lula pips it, people will realize the dream has ended, and with it, the ‘myth’…The ‘chavistas’ are still ruling VZ, sure, but only at the cost of Maduro installing a dictatorship…..it’s just a matter of time before all dictators meet their waterloo. If they were truly good, it would be the preferred form of government, and no-one would object. Why do Cubans keep on fleeing from Cuba ? Because it’s social paradise ? Lula, in jail is good, dying there even better.