Venezuela’s Ousted Attorney General at International Criminal Court: Maduro ‘Must Pay’

Venezuela's General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz speaks during a news conference at her office in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, April 25, 2017. Four more people have died in protests against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, the government said Monday, bringing the total death toll in recent protests and unrest in the country …
AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

Venezuela’s former Chavista attorney general Luisa Ortega Díaz appeared at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday to provide evidence against the Maduro regime of crimes against humanity.

“Nicolás Maduro and his government should pay for these crimes against humanity just as they must also pay for the hunger, misery, and hardship they’ve inflicted on the Venezuelan people,” she told reporters outside the court.

Ortega turned up outside the court carrying large files of papers, which she later confirmed were over 1,000 pieces of evidence including forensic reports, witness interviews, and expert testimony linking the country’s security forces to over 8,000 murders since 2015.

Security forces also stand accused of carrying out incidents of torture, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary arrest, mainly against political dissidents. Some of the killings were a result of the government-led crackdown on the protest movements that rocked the country between April and July that left at least 125 people dead.

“(They happened) under the orders of the executive branch, as part of a social cleansing plan carried out by the government,” she said. “Nicolás Maduro and his government must pay for this.”

Figures implicated in Ortega’s claims include Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, intelligence chief Gustavo Gonzalez, and former National Guard chief Antonio Benavides.

Ortega, who was a loyalist to former president Hugo Chávez before breaking with the Maduro regime, said she had been forced to take her evidence to an international tribunal as “it’s not possible to punish these people” in Venezuela as the ruling socialist dictatorship now has full control over the judiciary.

The former attorney general has been a prominent voice against the Maduro regime since being ousted by the country’s “national constituent assembly,” a fraudulent lawmaking body designed to consolidate Maduro’s rule. In August, she was forced to flee the country via a speedboat as security forces raided her house and obtained a warrant for her arrest. She has since been granted asylum by both Brazil and Colombia.

She has accused Maduro of personally profiting from food rations and detailed the “systematic torture” of hundreds of political prisoners.

report conducted by the United Nations also found that the government had engaged in “extensive” and widespread repression of rights across Venezuela amid a political, economic, and humanitarian crisis that has left millions starving and thousands dead.

“The findings detailed in this report point to an increasingly critical human rights situation since the protests began, with mounting levels of repression of political dissent by national security forces, and increasing stigmatization and persecution of people perceived as opposing the Government of President Maduro,” the report stated.

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