Thu, Aug 09, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Opposition lawmakers pursued over Venezuela attack

AFP, CARACAS

Venezuela’s all-powerful constituent assembly yesterday launched proceedings to try opposition lawmakers over an alleged drone attack on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that was denounced by exiled opposition leader Julio Borges as a staged “farce.”

Venezuelan Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello called the session to strip the lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity so they could face trial for the alleged and failed bid to kill Maduro.

“When justice comes, it hits hard,” Cabello said.

Maduro and his government said the president had on Saturday last week been targeted by two flying drones each carrying 1kg of powerful C-4 explosives.

However, details remain unclear, with conflicting information coming from various sources.

The Maduro administration said that Colombia — including former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, who ended his term on Tuesday — had collaborated on the attack with the “ultra far-right” Venezuelan opposition, including Borges, and it was financed by unnamed figures in Florida.

No evidence was given to support the allegations.

In a television and radio address, Maduro accused Venezuelan opposition legislator Juan Requesens and Borges of having plotted a drone “assassination” attempt over the weekend.

“Neither the country nor the world believe you when it comes to this farce of an attack, we all know that it was staged to persecute and repress those of us who oppose your dictatorship,” Borges wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Maduro said several raids were under way as part of investigations.

Borges is one of the most prominent figures of the Venezuelan opposition and is a member of the Primero Justicia (Justice First) party of former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.

Primero Justicia said Requesens and his sister, Rafaela, were “arrested and hit” in a sweep by the SEBIN national intelligence service unit.

Rafaela was later released.

“All the statements [of detained suspects] point to Julio Borges, who lives in a mansion in Bogota protected by the outgoing government of Colombia. We know he has the cowardice to participate in this type of events,” Maduro said.

Shortly before the opposition crackdown, the legislature had demanded an impartial investigation into the drone explosions and denounced the government’s efforts to use the event to “increase political persecution” of the opposition.

“We reaffirm that Venezuelans’ political struggle must focus ... on obtaining free and fair elections,” the declaration said.

On Monday, Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab said several suspects were in custody and authorities would track down “all those who conspire against public peace.”

He called the drone attack, in which seven soldiers were said to be wounded, “an attempted massacre.”

Venezuelan Minister of the Interior Nestor Reverol on Sunday said that six suspects had been arrested.

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