Venezuelan 'shadow' high court judge jailed: opposition

2017-07-25 13:26


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Caracas - A Venezuelan military court has ordered the imprisonment of a lawyer that congress named to a shadow Supreme Court in a swipe at President Nicolas Maduro, a rights group and an opposition leader said on Monday.

Angel Zerpa, arrested on Saturday, has been imprisoned and has gone on a hunger strike, said Foro Penal, a group that defends political prisoners in this oil rich country in the throes of a political and economic crisis.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles also said Zerpa had been imprisoned.

Zerpa was denied the right to have an attorney of his choice with him when he appeared before the military court, Capriles said.

"No lawyer, no due process, and going before a military court. What is this?" Capriles said in remarks on the social medium Periscope.

Maduro warned on Sunday that 33 judges whom the opposition-controlled congress designated last week as a sort of shadow Supreme Court would be arrested.

So far, Zerpa is the only one known to have been arrested.

The opposition says the current top court is packed with hardcore Maduro loyalists. Many of its justices were hastily appointed shortly before Maduro's ruling party lost its majority in congress in 2015 legislative elections.

The Supreme Court said that by swearing in shadow judges, congress overstepped its bounds and committed treason.

Venezuela's opposition blames Maduro for Venezuela's economic crisis and plans a general strike for Wednesday and Thursday.

That is part of a drum beat of angry opposition sentiment ahead of voting on Sunday for an assembly to rewrite the Constitution.

The opposition has called for a boycott of the assembly, calling it a ploy by Maduro to cling to power.

Read more on:    nicolas maduro  |  venezuela

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