Published: Thu, May 09, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Venezuela to prosecute turncoat lawmakers following failed coup - court

Venezuela to prosecute turncoat lawmakers following failed coup - court

The court said it asked Attorney General Tarek Saab to handle the "criminal investigation" into the opposition legislators for high treason and conspiracy.

The Constituent Assembly's decree is necessary for the Supreme Court to move ahead with a trial of Guaido and the other lawmakers because they have parliamentary immunity that makes it more hard for them to be tried than average citizens.

Guaido said that Venezuela's constitution allowed him to do so after the opposition-controlled but sidelined legislature declared Maduro a usurper over his controversial 2018 re-election. Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello added that three more lawmakers complicit in the coup had been identified and would also be prosecuted.

"The National Assembly, democratically elected and presided over by Juan Guaidó, must continue being the center of the country's political life", the declaration said.

The United States recognises Guaidó as interim president.

The USNS Comfort will leave its home port in Norfolk, Va., in June for a five-month humanitarian mission through the Caribbean, Central America and South America, U.S. Southern Command announced Tuesday. Military police prevented journalists from entering the National Assembly, and some reporters were harassed by government supporters outside the building.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says the United States is lifting sanctions on Venezuela's former intelligence service, but warned the 25 magistrates of the country's supreme court of possible punishment and reiterated "all options are the table" to remove President Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday said that Washington needed the natural resources of Venezuela, such as diamonds and gas.

Pence said in a speech on Tuesday that the US was also considering sanctions on members of the Venezuelan Supreme Court.

Mr Pence also announced that the United States ship USNS Comfort would begin a five-month mission in June to the Caribbean, Central America and South America to help relieve pressure on countries that have taken in large numbers of people fleeing Venezuela.

The lawmakers facing accusations include prominent opposition legislators such as Henry Ramos Allup and Luis German Florido.

The Constituent Assembly has said it will strip the immunity of any lawmakers who backed the April 30 coup attempt.

Dozens more were injured and more than 233 were arrested in the unrest.

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