Swiss impose sanctions on seven senior Venezuelan officials

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland announced a series of sanctions against Venezuela on Wednesday, joining other European countries in cracking down on the South American country over alleged human rights violations.

The Swiss government ordered asset freezes and travel bans for people, companies and organizations including seven Venezuelan ministers and high-ranking officials.

As with European Union sanctions imposed in January, those on the sanctions list include former National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol and Chief Justice Maikel Moreno.

(To view a Special Report on How a defrocked judge became the chief legal enforcer for Maduro's Venezuela, click )

Neutral Switzerland said it was “seriously concerned by the repeated violations of individual freedoms in Venezuela, where the principle of separation of powers is severely undermined and the process in view of the forthcoming elections suffers from a serious lack of legitimacy”.

Venezuela’s opposition won a broad majority in 2015 legislative elections, but President Nicolas Maduro’s allies on the Supreme Court stripped it of many of its powers and systematically shot down every piece of legislation it approved.

Maduro last year led the creation of a legislative superbody called the Constituent Assembly, which has no formal checks on its powers. Its creation led many countries around the world to describe Maduro as a dictator, a charge he dismisses as part of a campaign against him by the United States.

The Swiss sanctions include banning the sale or export to Venezuela of arms and goods which can be used for internal repression and of equipment that can be used to monitor and intercept internet and telephone communications.

Reporting by John Revill and Michael Shields, editing by Larry King