The Latest: Venezuela leader promotes investigated officer

AP News
Posted: Jun 30, 2017 9:24 PM
The Latest: Venezuela leader promotes investigated officer

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on Venezuela's political crisis (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is promoting an intelligence chief being investigated for human rights abuses to be chief of the nation's army.

Maduro announced that he is promoting Gustavo Gonzalez on Friday, just hours after Venezuela's chief prosecutor said she was investigating Gonzalez for "grave and systemic human rights violations."

Gonzalez has served until recently as chief of the feared Sebin intelligence agency.

He is the second high-ranking official that Maduro has rewarded this week after being accused of abuses against the opposition. On Thursday, Maduro decorated a colonel seen forcefully pushing the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Venezuela has been embroiled in three months of political upheaval that has left nearly 80 people dead and thousands detained.


6:50 p.m.

Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami is throwing his support behind two high-ranking officials suspected of committing systemic human rights violations during three months of anti-government protests.

In a call to government broadcaster VTV on Friday, El Aissami called the state prosecutor's accusations "slanderous allegations."

Former National Guard chief Antonio Benavides Torres and intelligence agency director Gustavo Gonzalez have been summoned to appear next week as part of the prosecutor's investigations into rights abuses.

El Aissami also defended the Supreme Court's recent decision barring chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz from leaving the country and freezing her bank accounts. He called the restrictions "necessary measures of justice."

Ortega Diaz has recently been challenging the socialist government's legal actions. Earlier Friday, she asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for protection for herself and all those working in her office.


5 p.m.

The last United Airlines flight has departed from crisis-ridden Venezuela.

A crewmember waved a Venezuelan flag out the pilot's window as the jetliner departed from its gate Friday.

The U.S. airline announced earlier in June that it was suspending its service to the capital city of Caracas as of July 1. The airline said the service was "not meeting our financial expectations."

United Airlines joins a growing list of air carriers that have suspended flights to Venezuela amid the country's economic and political turmoil.

Videos taken from inside the United jet showed one emotional crew member saying, "We will see each other again."


3:20 p.m.

The head of Venezuela's intelligence agency is being summoned to court on suspicion of committing grave and systemic human rights violations.

Chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz's office says it is investigating cases of arbitrary raids, illegitimate detentions and people being held in jail despite court orders that they be let free.

Intelligence agency director Gustavo Gonzalez has been ordered to appear at the state prosecutor's office on Monday.

Legal rights activists have denounced the detention of thousands of Venezuelans participating in anti-government protests. Opposition leaders have also decried raids by authorities that have left buildings in shambles.


3 p.m.

Opposition leaders are asking Venezuelans to step up their participation in street protests in advance of President Nicolas Maduro's constitutional rewrite.

Leaders of the Democratic Unity coalition say they are recruiting Venezuelans to join Committees for the Rescue of Democracy to organize neighbors.

A poll by one Caracas-based university this week found that nearly 20 percent of Venezuelans have participated in the protests. A majority of those surveyed also said they believed it was dangerous to demonstrate.

At least 77 people have been killed in three months of near-daily anti-government demonstrations that typically end with authorities launching tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.


1:30 p.m.

Venezuela's chief prosecutor is asking the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for protection after the Supreme Court barred her from leaving the country and froze her bank accounts.

Luisa Ortega Diaz announced on Twitter Friday she is asking protection for all those working at her agency from the Washington-based organization charged with safeguarding human rights. The commission is a branch of the Organization of American States.

The Supreme Court has recently taken steps to strip power from the state prosecutor's office and instead assign many of its responsibilities to the pro-government public ombudsman. That came after Ortega Diaz began challenging the socialist government's legal actions.

The court is also considering a complaint filed by a socialist party lawmaker who accuses Ortega Diaz of becoming a de facto opposition leader.


This story has been corrected to .show that Gonzalez was named head of the army, not the military.