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Venezuela says 17 arrested and charged over anti-Maduro 'coup'

Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido clash with forces loyal to President Nicolas Maduro in front of La Carlota military base in Caracas on April 30, 2019
Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido clash with forces loyal to President Nicolas Maduro in front of La Carlota military base in Caracas on April 30, 2019 AFP/File
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Caracas (AFP)

Venezuelan authorities said Tuesday that 17 people have been charged with attempting a "coup" since a failed April 30 uprising against President Nicolas Maduro.

"There are 34 people being investigated, of whom 17 have been detained and charged" for having "attempted a coup d'etat," said Attorney General Tarek William Saab.

Fifteen opposition lawmakers have been stripped of their immunity by the regime-dominated Constituent Assembly for having supported the attempted uprising led by Juan Guaido, who heads the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Guaido's deputy Edgar Zambrano was one of those arrested and charged while the other 14 have either sought refuge in diplomatic missions, fled the country or gone into hiding.

Surrounded by a group of around 30 military personnel, Guaido appeared in a video shared on social media on April 30 calling on the armed forces to rise up against Maduro.

But following two days of deadly clashes between protesters and the security forces, the revolt petered out.

Maduro's government then began a crackdown on those it says were involved.

Guaido, who sparked a political crisis in January by declaring himself acting president in a move backed by more than 50 countries, has so far been off limits.

His main ally, the United States, has warned Caracas of the consequences that arresting Guaido would bring.

Saab also gave an update on detentions relating to an alleged drone attack during a military parade last August that Maduro claimed was an assassination attempt.

"There have been 38 people charged, 31 have been stripped of their freedom while seven are subject to alternative measures," said Saab.

Rights NGO Foro Penal says there are more than 900 "political prisoners" in crisis-hit Venezuela, where a quarter of the 30 million population is in need of aid, according to the United Nations.

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