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Americas

Venezuelan opposition leader Rosales granted asylum in Peru

Latest update : 2009-04-28

The Peruvian government has granted political asylum to Venezuelan opposition leader Manuel Rosales (pictured), who sought refuge earlier this month after corruption charges were filed against him relating to his 2002-2004 term as governor.

AFP - Peru has granted Venezuela's self-exiled opposition leader Manuel Rosales political asylum, Lima's top diplomat said on Monday.
   
"True to its historical tradition and its commitment to international law, Peru has decided to grant (Rosales) political asylum," Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde told a congressional committee.
   
"I hope that this decision does not alter relations between Peru and Venezuela," Garcia Belaunde told reporters upon leaving the congress.
   
"It is a case of asylum on humanitarian grounds."
   
Rosales, 56, sought asylum in Peru earlier this month after corruption charges were filed against him in his native Venezuela.
   
The charges relate to his 2002-2004 term as governor of the oil-rich state of Zulia. Rosales has denied charges of graft, but failed to appear at an April 20 hearing on his preventive detention.
   
Rosales claims he is being politically persecuted by Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez, against whom he ran as the main opposition candidate in the 2006 presidential election.
   
Rosales' Peruvian attorney, prominent legislator Javier Valle Riestra, told AFP last week that Interpol cannot arrest his client, because it "is forbidden from intervening in cases of politics, race or religion."
   
Meanwhile the opposition leader blasted what he called the "totalitarian" Chavez regime in an interview with Venezuelan TV broadcast in Peru last Wednesday.
   
He later said he regretted his statements and promised he would refrain from proselytizing in Peru if granted asylum.
   
Interpol said Friday it had issued an international wanted persons notice for Rosales, following a request from Venezuela, where a court issued a warrant for his arrest last Wednesday.
   
Chavez, who first took office in 1999 and survived a 47-hour coup in 2002, routinely accuses the opposition -- and the US government -- of trying to overthrow him and even have him killed.
   
Rosales first ran afoul of Chavez after the opposition leader was linked to a 2002 attempted coup against the Venezuelan president.
   
Chavez has accused Rosales in October of plotting to assassinate him, and threatened to have him jailed.

Date created : 2009-04-27

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