Venezuela’s chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega rejects dismissal
Venezuela’s chief prosecutor says she was sacked by the new constituent assembly because the government wanted to stop herinvestigations into alleged corruption and human rights abuses.
Luisa Ortega, a supporter turned critic of President Nicolás Maduro, has rejected her dismissal.
She will face trial for “serious misconduct”, the Supreme Court says.
Meanwhile, a leading opposition figure has been returned from prison to house arrest.
Leopoldo López was taken from his home on Tuesday and spent four days in a military jail.
South American regional bloc Mercosur has suspended Venezuela “indefinitely”, having previously placed it under a temporary ban. Itsays the country will not be re-admitted until the constituent assembly is scrapped and allpolitical prisoners are released.
Another opponent of the government, Antonio Ledezma, is also back under house arrest after three days in jail last week.
Both opposition politicians had encouraged protests against the constituent assembly, which is dominated by government supporters.
In its first session on Saturday, the assemblyunanimously voted to remove Ms Ortega from her post.
The lawyer was prevented from entering heroffice in the capital, Caracas, by dozens of National Guard officers in riot gear, and left on a motorbike amid chaotic scenes.
In a statement (in Spanish) released by the public prosecutor’s office, she said Mr Maduro’s government was leading a “coup against the constitution”.
“I do not recognise the decision,” she said of her dismissal. “[This is] just a tiny example of what’s coming for everyone that dares to oppose this totalitarian form of ruling.”
The Supreme Court, loyal to Mr Maduro, did not give details of the accusations against her.
Ms Ortega, who broke ranks with the government in March, had opposed the assembly’s inauguration on Friday, citing allegations of voting fraud.
Tarek William Saab, a supporter of President Maduro, has been sworn in as her replacement.
Her removal was widely expected but the fact that it was decided on the first working day of the assembly suggested that the newbody could take aggressive measures against Mr Maduro’s critics, correspondents say.
Mexico, Peru and Colombia have condemned her dismissal.
Script reporter: Ayodele Iyanu-Oluwa