Venezuela’s Supreme Court orders asset freeze and travel ban against “dissident” Attorney General

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : In an unprecedented move, Venezuela’s Supreme Court ordered an asset freeze and a travel ban against “dissident” Attorney General Luisa Ortega, claiming she had overstepped her constitutional powers. The move comes in retaliation against Ortega’s call for the removal of 33 Supreme Court Justices for irregularities and for stripping eight of their immunity and for putting them on trial for conspiracy against the order of the republic. The asset freeze and travel ban comes also, as the Supreme Court usurped powers of the Public prosecutor, in addition to legislative powers.

We, the Supreme Court Justices, hereby rule that we are innocent and did not violate any Banana Republic standards.

We, the Supreme Court Justices, hereby rule that we are innocent and did not violate any Banana Republic standards.

In an unprecedented move, the Plenary Chamber of the Supreme Court (TSJ), issued the asset freeze and travel ban for the “dissident” Attorney General Luisa Ortega. The Court issued a statement, claiming this were “precautionary measures” ahead of a hearing on “allegations of grave misconduct in the exercise of her office for which she could face possible impeachment”.

A date for the hearing has been set for July 4. During the hearing, the Supreme Court will “decide whether Luisa Ortega will face criminal charges” related to her long dispute with the Court.

In mid-June Attorney General Ortega called for eight Supreme Court justices to be stripped of their immunity and to be put on trial for conspiracy against the order of the republic. The move came less than a day after she also filed a motion to remove 33 Supreme Court justices for irregularities in their selection after the Court had dismissed her motion to block an attempt to rewrite the country’s Constitution.

Speaking to reporters outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Ortega stressed that she had officially requested authorization to pursue legal proceedings against the six judges and two substitute judges currently presiding over the Constitutional Tribunal. The Attorney General underpinned that these judges had handed down a number of rulings that warranted them to be tried for having conspired against the system of governance in the country.

Attorney General Ortega - Being outspoken and upholding the Constitution now criminal?

Attorney General Ortega – Being outspoken and upholding the Constitution now criminal?

Ortega particularly mentioned two rulings issued March 29, in which the tribunal gave permission to the Supreme Court (TSJ) to assume the legislative functions of the National Assembly on grounds that the legislative body was “in contempt of court”. Some of the most controversial parts of the rulings were overturned in April, after Ortega had sharply criticized them.

However, even after these rulings were “slightly watered down”, Ortega stressed that these rulings were of such nature and magnitude that had endangered democracy – including the separation of powers – in Venezuela in “an act of force” that suggests a “conspiracy against the constitutional republican system of the nation”.

Controversially, in late June, the Court also accepted a legal request filed by “Chavista” legislator Pedro Carreno, who asked the court to assess the possibility of bringing impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Luisa Ortega.

After usurping legislative powers, the socialist PSUV dominated Supreme Court now usurped powers of the Public Prosecutor

Even more controversially, the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Tribunal has now ruled that the office of the National Ombudsman has constitutional authority to investigate and prosecute criminal offenses, which was formerly the monopoly of the Public Prosecution.

National Ombudsmand Tarek William Saab, instead of refusing to participate in the usurpation of prosecutorial powers, confirmed that his office will exercise its new powers. Saab claimed that his office would do that “without conflicting with the dissident Attorney general” and added that “The ombudsman’s office will have the ability to investigate ex officio, or at the request of a party that issues a complaint”.

Supreme Court also voids Ortega’s appointment of Vice-Attorney Rafael Gonzalez

Chavez_banana republic_venezuelaIn an additional , unprecedented move, the Supreme Court also declared Luisa Ortega’s appointment of Vice-Attorney General Rafael Gonzalez Arias “null and void”. The Justices, wholes than one month ago “found themselves not guilty”, for irregularities in their appointment and for conspiracy against the order of the republic, now claimed that the designation was not approved by the National Assembly as required by Article 25 of the Organic Law of the Public Prosecution.

That, notwithstanding the fact that the Court usurped the powers of the National Assembly – in which the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition holds an absolute majority – because it found the legislative branch of government to be “in contempt of Court”.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega stressed that she refuses to recognize the latest rulings against her which she denounced as a politicized attempt to defang her office.

“It is a process of progressive dismantling of the attorney general’s office”, Ortega stressed. Ortega also warned that the Supreme Court’s decision would lead to “impunity in the face of government, repression of protests, and state terrorism”. “I think we have state terrorism in which the right of protest is lost, in which protests are cruelly repressed,” she said on Wednesday.

CH/L – nsnbc 01.07.2017

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