Venezuela’s anti-Maduro chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega sacked
Venezuela’s chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega, a staunch critic of President Nicolas Maduro, has been sacked and ordered to stand trial.
In the latest example of growing international condemnation, Venezuela has been suspended from South American trade bloc Mercosur.
Many fear the 545 members of the assembly – all allies of the president – will further clamp down on dissent and undermine freedoms in the struggling country.
The assembly was formed earlier this week after a vote surrounded by violent street protests and claims that the turnout had been seriously tampered with.
Opponents say President Maduro is a dictator and the assembly gives him virtually unlimited powers, including the power to rewrite the constitution.
In sacking Ms Ortega, the assembly said it was acting in a response to a Supreme Court ruling – a body also made up mainly of government supporters.
Mr Maduro’s critics were called “traitors” during the meeting, and warned: “justice is coming for you”.
The assembly also ordered Ms Ortega to stand trial for “alleged commission of serious misconduct”.
Earlier, the former chief prosecutor said she was “manhandled” and “attacked with shields” while being prevented from entering her office by dozens of national guardsmen.
“They want to hide the corruption and violation of human rights taking place in Venezuela,” said Ms Ortega – who has now been replaced by staunch government supporter Tarek Saab.
Mr Saab was recently sanctioned by the US for failing to protect protesters from abuses in his role as the nation’s top human rights official.
Venezuela’s expulsion from trade bloc Mercosur comes after numerous foreign governments have condemned Mr Maduro’s regime and refused to recognise the assembly.
Earlier in the week two high-profile opposition leaders were imprisoned after being dragged from their homes in the middle of the night.
Four months of protests in the divided country have left at least 120 people dead and hundreds more in jail.
Despite having plentiful oil supplies, severe shortages of food and medicine have led to thousands of Venezuelans leaving to live in neighbouring countries.