Opposition magistrates holed up in Chile residence flee Venezuela: source

CARACAS (Reuters) - Five magistrates named by the opposition-run congress who had been holed up in the Chilean ambassador’s residence to avoid arrest fled in the early hours of Monday and escaped over the border to Colombia, a source said on Tuesday.

The Chilean Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Elenis Rodriguez, Luis Marcano, Jose Nunez, Beatriz Ruiz, and Zuleima Del Valle had left the premises on Monday, but did not offer further details.

“Relatives came to get them at 5 a.m. yesterday. They escaped via (the Colombian border city of) Cucuta,” said the source close to the five, who have been granted asylum by the Chilean government.

“From there they will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with the Organization of American States,” the source added.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro threatened the opposition-named magistrates with jail in July after they challenged the existing Supreme Court, which has heavily favored the ruling Socialist Party.

The status of the other magistrates remains unclear. Three were detained, although local media reported they were subsequently freed. Others have fled to the United States and Colombia.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Venezuelan opposition COPEI party member Roberto Enriquez remains in the home of the Chilean ambassador in Caracas, the Foreign Ministry added in its statement.

Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by James Dalgleish