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Venezuela asks Interpol to arrest politician over alleged plot

CARACAS (AFP) - 

Venezuela said Friday it has asked Interpol to arrest an opposition politician exiled in Colombia and accused of involvement in an apparent attack against President Nicolas Maduro.

"We are seeking code red for Mr. Julio Borges," Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said, referring to the former speaker of the National Assembly.

The request for an Interpol red notice -- calling for police in another country to locate and provisionally arrest a suspect wanted in another -- follows what Venezuelan officials said was a drone assassination attempt on Maduro last weekend.

Two drones packed with explosives flew toward Maduro as he was attending a military parade in Caracas, officials said. When a detonation occurred, soldiers were seen running away in panic.

Authorities say they have detained 10 suspects whom they accuse of involvement with support from neighboring Colombia and from unidentified figures in the United States. Another 10 unidentified people are implicated and not yet arrested, the government said.

One of those detained is another opposition lawmaker, Juan Requesens, who was seized by intelligence officers at his home this week.

Maduro's government said Requesens has since admitted to having communicated through a message service with another arrested suspect, retired soldier Juan Monasterios, who has allegedly confessed to participating in the attack.

"The ex-deputy Requesens and Borges were directly involved in the planning and execution as accomplices and as the masterminds," Rodriguez charged. He called both men "cowards."

Rodriguez presented a video excerpt of 47 seconds in which Requesens is heard telling a prosecutor that Borges had asked him to smuggle Monasterios across the border with Colombia.

- Stripped of immunity -

Maduro on Monday showed a video said to be of Monasterios, his face blurred out, saying he had received help from Requesens and a Venezuelan immigration official to cross the Colombia border.

In that video, the person is heard saying that he received a text message from Requesens saying he was going to help him cross at the request of Borges.

The Constituent Assembly, a powerful super-legislative body of Maduro loyalists created last year that has arrogated powers from the opposition-dominated National Assembly, on Wednesday stripped Borges and Requesens of their parliamentary immunity so they can be put on trial.

Borges and other opposition figures accuse Maduro of using the drone incident to step up repression and persecution of the opposition.

The European Union has called for a "comprehensive and transparent investigation" of the incident while rejecting violence in Venezuela. It also demanded the National Assembly's powers be restored, including its right to decide the parliamentary immunity of its members.

© 2018 AFP