Deputy to Guaido imprisoned, Maduro accuses sacked general
CARACAS- Agence France-Presse
The deputy to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido was jailed on May 10 at a military prison in Caracas following his dramatic arrest, while President Nicolas Maduro accused his sacked intelligence chief of being a CIA "mole" and the architect of a failed military uprising 10 days ago.
Edgar Zambrano, deputy speaker of the opposition-majority National Assembly, is being held in preventive detention for "the flagrant commission of the crimes of treason, conspiracy and civil rebellion," the Supreme Court said in a statement announcing the verdict of a lower court.
Zambrano was arrested by Maduro’s SEBIN intelligence service in dramatic circumstances on May 8 for supporting the April 30 revolt organized by US-backed Guaido.
Maduro claimed General Christopher Figuera, his fired SEBIN chief, was "the one who orchestrated the coup d’etat" by contacting the group of around 30 members of the armed forces who joined Guaido’s mass demonstration.
"He was captured by the CIA a year ago and was working as a traitor, mole and infiltrator," Maduro said of Figuera, whose defection to the opposition saw him rewarded earlier this week by the US, which removed him from its sanctions list.
The latest regime actions ratcheted up tensions ahead of a national demonstration Guaido called for Saturday to reject measures taken by the Supreme Court against opposition lawmakers.
Zambrano is one of 10 charged by the Supreme Court for participating in the April 30 movement.
He was transferred to the Caracas headquarters of the military police, Fort Tiuna, the court said.
One of the other charged lawmakers, Luis Florido, announced in a video on Friday that he had fled to neighboring Colombia, "sheltered from a regime that is willing to imprison deputies," he said.
Three others- Richard Blanco, Mariela Magallanes and Americo De Grazia- have sought refuge in the Argentine and Italian embassies in Caracas.
Zambrano’s lawyer Lilia Camejo denounced the procedure under which Zambrano, a civilian, was sent to a military prison, and said his rights had been violated.
"From the moment of the arrest, they have violated the deputy’s rights. We did not have access to the file, nor could we be appointed in his defense," Camejo told reporters.
Guaido said on May 9 the arrests were part of a bid by Maduro to dismantle the National Assembly legislature, Venezuela’s sole opposition-controlled institution but one which had already been rendered powerless by the pro-Maduro Supreme Court.
Venezuela was plunged into turmoil in January when Guaido declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority.
He has since been recognized by more than 50 countries as he steps up the pressure to oust Maduro, whom he considers illegitimate after 2018 elections widely seen as fraudulent.
But through months of crisis, Maduro- supported by China, Russia and his armed forces- has stood firm.
Separately on May 10, Venezuela announced it was re-opening its land border with Brazil after Maduro ordered it shut in February, frustrating Guaido’s attempt to bring stockpiled mostly-US humanitarian aid across the border.
Vice President Tareck El Aissami said the frontier with Brazil was "once again restored," and maritime links with the Caribbean island of Aruba were also reopened.