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News > Latin America

Venezuela Suspends Attorney General Pending Investigation

  • Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz

    Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 August 2017

Ombudsman Tareck Willian Saab has been appointed as the interim attorney general. 

Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly, ANC, has suspended Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz from her position, announcing that she will be investigated over accusations of "grave breaches of the law."

Venezuela's Supreme Court Holds Hearing Into Attorney General

Ortega is accused of lying about the alleged "lack of legitimacy of origin" of 33 judges of the Judiciary, to whom she gave the go-ahead in 2015. She is also being investigated for her alleged support for ongoing opposition protests, which have since claimed over 100 lives. 

Ortega has been suspended from her duties until a verdict is reached. Ombudsman Tareck Willian Saab will be appointed as interim attorney general. 

The president of the country's Supreme Court, TSJ, held an initial hearing on the case against Ortega on July 4, after a lawmaker from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Pedro Carreño, requested charges be brought against her. The court then had 30 days to decide whether to proceed with the charges.

The ANC, which on Saturday had its first working session, will be in place for a maximum of two years.

Ortega, once seen as a supporter of the Bolivarian Revolution and former President Hugo Chavez, began to distance herself from the government earlier this year. She criticized the call for an ANC and unsuccessfully filed several petitions to have it blocked.

She also tried to have a number of judges removed from the TSJ, saying their appointment in December 2105 had been irregular because she, as Attorney General, had not been consulted. 

Venezuela's Attorney General Accused of Stirring Violence

This particular action is at the heart of the current case against Ortega. Carreño has said that Ortega was present at the meeting where the judges were appointed and produced documents which they say show that she signed off on the appointments.

More generally, Carreño accuses Ortega of seeking to create a division between the different branches of government, in order to present the image of Venezuela as a failed state. In this respect, alleges Carreño, Ortega is taking her lead from the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which refused to accept rulings by the Supreme Court and was therefore declared to be in contempt of the Constitution.

Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami also accused Ortega of ratcheting up right-wing violence that seeks to overthrow the democratically-elected government.

Ortega declined to appear and present her defense at the initial hearing on July 4, describing the proceedings as "a circus."

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