Venezuela Raids Former Prosecutor General’s Home Hours After Major Corruption Accusation

Venezuela's dismissed chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega, one of President Nicolas Maduro's most vocal critics, speaks to the press after the 'In Defence of Democracy Forum' held by the opposition in Caracas on August 6, 2017 a day after a new assembly with supreme powers and loyal to President Nicolas Maduro …

Venezuelan authorities broadcasted a raid on the home of former Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz, hours after she confirmed that she would present evidence of widespread corruption on the part of top government officials.

The raid, which was broadcast on state television channel VTV, showed officers rifling through luxury items such as designer clothes, fine wines, and signed artworks belonging to the former attorney general, who was recently ousted after breaking ranks with Venezuela’s government despite being a former loyalist to socialist president Hugo Chávez.

The raid was broadcast hours after Ortega attended a summit of the regional trade bloc Mercosur in Brazil, where she said she would provide evidence of large-scale corruption to top government officials.

“I want to denounce, in front of the world, a grave situation in Venezuela: that of excessive corruption,” Ortega said at the conference. “Because of that reason, the Maduro administration is violating the constitution and law to protect itself.”

“In Venezuela, there are no guarantees that any investigation related to organized crime, terrorism, drug trafficking ends in conviction because the most probable outcome is that the key evidence disappears because there are many interests in corruption not being investigated,” she continued.

Ortega accused Maduro of profiting off of the government’s much-hated food ration delivery system and accused high-ranking chavista Diosdado Cabello of illicitly profiting from the Brazilian firm Odebrecht to the tune of $100 million.

This week, Ortega fled Venezuela to Colombia after taking a speedboat the island of Aruba and then flying to the capital of Bogotá.

Ortega, who for years served as a pro-government attorney general, was fired by Maduro’s “national constituents assembly” (ANC), a fraudulent legislative body after she began filing charges of human rights abuses against the security forces of the Maduro regime.

In June, Ortega charged the former head of the country’s national guard, Antonio Benavides, with “serious and systematic” human rights violations, which include the unnecessary use of firearms, the torturing of suspects, and conducting property raids without a warrant.

She also heavily criticized Maduro’s illegal creation of the ANC, created to usurp the power of the constitutional National Assembly and replace it with government loyalists, and unsuccessfully filed several petitions to have it blocked.

In response to Ortega’s criticisms, the Maduro regime has initiated a witch hunt against Ortega, with the replacement attorney general, Tarek William Saab, accusing her of  “grave moral and ethical infractions.”

This week, Saab unveiled a series of corruption charges against her and her husband, such as running “extortion gang” and funneling profits into an offshore account. He also blamed her for the deaths of protesters during the widespread anti-government demonstrations that have taken place since April.

“We’ve authorized two district attorneys to investigate these grave crimes and they are working on the case immediately,” Saab said during a news conference last week.

Meanwhile, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has confirmed that he will grant Ortega asylum if she asks for it.

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