Prosecutors question Venezuela opposition figure

AP News
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Posted: Dec 03, 2014 2:05 PM
Prosecutors question Venezuela opposition figure

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A Venezuelan opposition was questioned Wednesday by prosecutors investigating an alleged plot to kill President Nicolas Maduro.

Maria Corina Machado, a former member of the National Assembly, obeyed an order to attend a closed hearing with prosecutors for several hours at the office of the Attorney General in downtown Caracas. She told reporters as she left court that authorities will pursue a criminal case against her.

Machado said she was accused of conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison. Her case will now be assigned to a judge so she can be formally charged. The 47-year-old former denies any wrongdoing.

"All the accusations and the supposed evidence are false," she said.

Machado has repeatedly said she has no knowledge of any plot against Maduro and the allegations are a form of political persecution. "I have not committed any crime," she said before the meeting with prosecutors. "This is the price I have to pay for speaking the truth in Venezuela."

The attorney general's office opened its investigation in March after officials claimed a plot was being formed against the government involving Machado and several other opposition figures. Authorities have not provided any evidence publicly beyond some allegedly incriminating emails.

Authorities prohibited Machado from leaving the country in June.

Since narrowly winning election last year to succeed his mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez, Maduro has claimed there have been five assassination attempts against him and more than a dozen acts of sabotage and conspiracy.

The investigation of Machado comes as Venezuela comes under increasing financial strain because of plunging world oil prices, forcing the government to cut spending amid widespread shortages and the world's highest inflation. More than 95 percent of Venezuela's export earnings come from crude oil exports.