Venezuela supreme court orders dissident lawmaker's arrest

Venezuela's high court issued an arrest order for the ousted chief prosecutor's husband Thursday after authorities accused him of running a $6 million extortion ring, a ruling promptly denounced by government critics as a move aimed at silencing opponents of President Nicolas Maduro.

The government-stacked Supreme Court also announced it was referring German Ferrer's case to the new, all-powerful constitutional assembly. The assembly was installed in early August at Maduro's behest following a widely criticized vote, and it is expected to proceed with lifting Ferrer's immunity from prosecution that comes with legislative office. 

Ferrer is a lawmaker formerly aligned with Maduro's administration who has stood by his wife, Luisa Ortega Diaz, in denouncing the assembly's creation.

In a written statement to local media, Ferrer denied signing documents that officials are holding up as evidence he opened a bank account in the Bahamas to facilitate transactions. 

“This government no longer has any limits or shame,” he wrote. 

Ruling socialist party leader Diosdado Cabello provided prosecutors with papers allegedly showing that Ferrer and others opened six bank accounts at the Bahamas branch of a Swiss bank. 

In his statement, Ferrer said the documents “don't pass muster.”

 

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