Venezuela will prosecute seven lawmakers who backed last week’s failed uprising orchestrated by opposition leader Juan Guaido, the country’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, as Washington removed sanctions against Caracas’ sacked spy chief for backing the revolt.
The court, which announced the ruling in a statement, said it asked Attorney General Tarek William Saab to handle the “criminal investigation” into opposition deputies for “high treason” and “conspiracy.”
Soon after the announcement, the Constituent Assembly – which effectively acts as a regime rubber stamp – stripped the seven lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity.
“What comes now? A trial,” said Constituent Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello, the regime’s second most powerful figure after President Nicolas Maduro.
Cabello ominously added that three unnamed other lawmakers had been identified and would undergo the same process.
The list includes Henry Ramos Allup, the former speaker of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
Guaido, who is recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by more than 50 countries and was himself stripped of his immunity on April 2, denounced the decision.
The government’s “only response is to persecute, because they no longer govern, because they no longer have command,” he said.
“Today, this parliament offers the solutions that the regime cannot and will not be able to give, and that is why it is already defeated,” Guaido said during a session of the opposition-controlled National Assembly legislature, which journalists were not allowed to attend by order of the military.
In Washington, US Vice President Mike Pence kept up the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro’s shaken regime by announcing that sanctions against his sacked intelligence chief General Christopher Figuera were being lifted.
Pence, speaking at the State Department, said he hoped that Figuera’s defection would inspire other senior Venezuelans to break ranks with Maduro.
Washington “will consider sanctions relief for all those who step up for the constitution and support the rule of law,” Pence said.
“I hope the actions our nation is taking today will encourage others to follow the example of General Cristopher Figuera.”