Venezuela's top court charges 15th opposition deputy over revolt

Caracas (AFP) –


Venezuela's Supreme Court on Wednesday charged a 15th opposition lawmaker with involvement in last month's failed uprising against President Nicolas Maduro.

The country's top court, made up of regime loyalists, accused deputy Rafael Guzman of "the flagrant commission of the crimes of betraying the homeland, conspiracy, instigating insurrection (and) civil rebellion."

The charges relate to an uprising led by opposition leader and National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido -- who has not been charged by the Supreme Court -- on April 30 in a bid to ramp up the pressure on Maduro to step down and allow for new presidential elections.

But Guaido -- who is recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela's interim president -- was joined by only around 30 armed forces members and the revolt quickly fizzled out, although it did spark two days of deadly clashes between protesters and the security forces.

Maduro's government responded by cracking down on opposition deputies, with the regime-dominated Constituent Assembly stripping a dozen lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity.

Of those charged with involvement in the uprising, Guaido's deputy Edgar Zambrano has been arrested while others have either fled the country, sought refuge in diplomatic missions or gone into hiding.

Guaido has accused the government of trying to dismantle the opposition controlled National Assembly.

The Assembly however has been powerless since the Supreme Court stripped it of its powers in 2017.

The court's latest decision comes as government and opposition delegations hold peace talks in Norway in a bid to alleviate Venezuela's political and economic crises.