CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s Supreme Court opened criminal cases Monday against four National Assembly lawmakers opposed to President Nicolas Maduro, accusing them of rebellion and treason for their part in a failed military uprising.
The action brought to 23 the number of anti-Maduro lawmakers under prosecution amid a power struggle between the socialist president and opposition leader Juan Guaido.
The politicians are allied with Guaido, who as head of the opposition-controlled congress launched a campaign in January to oust Maduro with support from the United States and four dozen other nations.
Attorney General Tarek Williams Saab, a Maduro ally, on Friday filed the case against the four lawmakers with the court, which is stacked with Maduro loyalists.
Also Monday, the pro-Maduro National Constituent Assembly — a rival legislative body to the National Assembly — voted to strip the four lawmakers of immunity from criminal prosecution.
The lawmakers are Jorge Millán, Hernán Alemán, Carlos Lozano and Luis Stefanelli. They remained free from jail Monday, but the location of each was unclear.
The charges stem from their alleged role supporting the failed military uprising that Guaido led April 30 amid his bid to oust Maduro. The charges include treason, conspiracy, instigating insurrection and civil rebellion.
Similar charges landed the assembly’s first vice president, Edgar Zambrano, in jail for four months earlier this year. He was surprised by a commando unit of intelligence police that surrounded his car outside his political party’s headquarters and towed to jail.
Zambrano was released in September amid a dialogue between Maduro with minority opposition organizations that don’t include Guaido.
Guaido called the latest court action against the four lawmakers the “persecution of the dictatorship” that he said is bent on destroying the National Assembly — the only branch of government in Venezuela not under Maduro´s control.