Venezuela court seeks extradition of Maduro opponents

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CARACAS, Aug 18, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Venezuela’s highest court on Friday
authorized the government to demand the extradition of exiled former state
prosecutor Luisa Ortega and former oil chief Rafael Ramirez — both opponents
of President Nicolas Maduro.

The move follows a similar decision on Thursday by the Supreme Court to
seek to extradite opposition leader Julio Borges, who is accused of being
involved in an alleged attempt to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro last
month.

Like Ortega before him, Borges has taken refuge in neighboring Colombia.
Ramirez, the former head of state oil company PDVSA and a powerful opponent
of Maduro, has fled to Spain.

The opposition has dismissed the court as a tool of Maduro, who it says
has used his power to wrest control of state institutions.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza earlier this week accused Ortega of being
an “accomplice” in the August 4 incident, in which Maduro was seen reacting
on live television to the first of two explosions as he addressed a military
parade in Caracas.

Maduro said the blasts were from explosives-laden drones sent to
assassinate him, though opposition figures accuse him of fabricating the
incident to step up repression.

Ortega, an unwavering opponent of Maduro, denied any involvement.

“My struggle against tyranny is only with weapons that the law gives me,”
she replied in a tweet. “But you and Nicolas Maduro well know that when I
plan things, I do them well. If I had been behind this plan, the country
would be celebrating its freedom.” Ortega participated in a symbolic trial of
the exiled opposition-run supreme court in Colombia which sentenced Maduro to
18 years for corruption on Thursday.

Ramirez, meanwhile, is accused of fraudulent embezzlement as part of a
“web of corruption” for which 90 ex-employees have been arrested, part of a
crackdown on opponents by Maduro.

Venezuela has arrested 14 people over the attack, including an opposition
politician, a general and a colonel.

The United States on Friday condemned alleged arbitrary detentions and
forced confessions by Caracas in its investigation into the failed August 4
drone “attack”.

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