Venezuela chief prosecutor to face charges as crisis deepens

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s Supreme Court cleared the way for a trial against the country’s chief prosecutor, who became a surprise hero to the opposition after breaking ranks with the government of President Nicolas Maduro over his efforts to concentrate power.

The government-stacked court in a statement Tuesday it had approved a request from a socialist party lawmaker to lift prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz’s protection from prosecution for allegedly committing “grave errors” in her role as the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Opponents of Maduro say Ortega Diaz is being targeted for her decision to break with the government over its plans to gut the opposition-controlled National Assembly and attempt to rewrite the constitution. In the past few weeks, as Ortega Diaz has pursued a number of legal actions seeking to block Maduro’s power grab, government supporters have mounted a campaign to discredit her actions, alternately accusing her of being crazy or a spokeswoman for “right-wing terrorists.”

Ortega remained defiant in the face of the high court’s move, saying the ruling was an attack not against her but the very foundations of the Venezuela’s democracy.

“Hanging over the country is a bleak outlook that could destroy the state,” she told Union Radio.

The opposition, for whom Ortega Diaz was until recently a favorite punching bag, was quick to condemn the ruling.

At a press conference, the Democratic Unity alliance vowed to redouble its campaign of street protests seeking Maduro’s removal that have left at least 70 people dead and hundreds injured or arrested. In its strongest rebuke yet of Maduro, it vowed to disavow all actions by the government as it called on Venezuelans to organize themselves in “committees to restore democracy” to block Maduro’s plans for a July election to choose delegates to a constitutional assembly under rules that heavily favor the government.

“All Venezuelans need to stand up to rescue our nation’s democracy,” National…

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