President Nicolas Maduro has presented details of the alleged drone attack against him, as opposition leaders suggest it never took place. Lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution is to be lifted by the Constituent Assembly.
The head of Venezuela’s powerful Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, is launching proceedings to try opposition leaders who President Nicolas Maduro claims are responsible for the drone attack on him during a military parade in Caracas on Sunday.
Cabello called Wednesday’s session to introduce legislation to remove the immunity from prosecution currently protecting lawmakers so they could face trial for involvement in the alleged attack.
The new measure would affect Primero Justicia (Justice First) lawmaker Juan Requesens and party member Julio Borges, a leading opposition figure who is currently in exile in neighboring Colombia.
In a speech broadcast on radio and TV on Tuesday, President Maduro accused both Requesens and Borges of plotting an “assassination” attempt on him.
He described Requesens as one of his “craziest and most psychopathic” adversaries, adding: “Several of the declarations indicated Julio Borges. The investigations point to him.”
The 29-year-old Requesens made an impassioned speech on Tuesday in the elected Venezuelan National Assembly. The former student leader represents the Andean state of Tachira for the party of former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who was banned from all political activity for 15 years in 2017.
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“We are going to get Nicolas Maduro to leave in order to get out of this tragedy,” Requesens said. “We will be able to receive all Venezuelans who are crazy enough to return to the country, and for those of us who are here, we have no choice but to continue stretching this rope until it breaks and we can get Nicolas Maduro out.”
Requesens condemned the government for its “ineptitude and corruption” via Twitter, blaming its mismanagement for the record inflation rate.
After the speech, Requesens and his sister Rafaela, a student leader, were arrested in their apartment in the Venezuelan capital, according to the Justice First party.
The arrests were carried out by the national intelligence service unit, SEBIN, according to party officials. “Fourteen men of the SEBIN forcefully kidnapped lawmaker Juan Requesens and the president of the Federation of University Centers, Rafaela Requesens,” the party said.
On Wednesday, Rafaela Requesens confirmed she had been released but condemned what she described as her brother’s disappearance.
Maduro targets opposition leaders
The TV images of the event on Sunday do not show drones and the images stopped abruptly as soldiers on parade were seen running away.
A number of people have been arrested by security forces and face charges of treason, attempted murder and terrorism.
Maduro used his TV address on Tuesday to broaden his range of targets responsible for the alleged attack on him: “I want to explain to the government of the United States and the government of Colombia in detail all the evidence that leads us to accomplices and those directly responsible living in the state of Florida.” It was unclear who in Florida he had accused.
Maduro, who has long accused the US of destabilizing his government, added: “I trust in the good faith of Donald Trump.”
jm/rt (Reuters, AFP, EFE, AP)