December 16, 2019 / 7:23 PM / a month ago

Venezuela's Constituent Assembly approves trial of four opposition lawmakers

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s pro-government Constituent Assembly on Monday approved a trial for four opposition lawmakers accused of committing crimes including treason and conspiracy.

The lawmakers’ parties have denied the charges and denounced the process as another step taken by President Nicolas Maduro’s government to dismantle the opposition-controlled national assembly, led by Juan Guaido.

Guaido in January assumed an interim presidency and called for Maduro’s removal, though his campaign has lost momentum in recent months and the ruling Socialist Party retains control of the state and military.

The Constituent Assembly, a legislative superbody created by Maduro to override the national assembly, on Monday voted unanimously to approve the trial after a request by Venezuela’s top court, which is also stacked with pro-government judges.

It was not immediately evident when the trial would take place.

Chief state prosecutor Tarek Saab, in a statement, said lawmakers Jorge Millan, Hernan Aleman, Carlos Lozano and Luis Stefanelli had conspired to seize military installations in Sucre state with the aim of “destabilizing this christmas.”

Venezuelan authorities this year have opened criminal probes into Guaido and stripped many of his colleagues of their parliamentary immunity, paving the way for their prosecution.

Guaido says some 30 lawmakers remain detained, in exile, or in refuge at embassies in Caracas.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas, writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Brian Ellsworth

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