The International Criminal Court is probing allegations of crimes against humanity against Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and others, the court’s chief prosecutor said Thursday.
Announcing the investigation in The Hague, Netherlands, Fatou Bensouda said the move was justified by “evidence available to the court,” which cited “widespread or systematic attacks against a civilian population” in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan government has long dismissed the court’s jurisdiction and brought an application to the court against Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno.
On Wednesday, Moreno rejected the court’s jurisdiction and said the claims were politically motivated.
Speaking at a news conference at the International Center for La Libertad, one of Latin America’s oldest dissident movements, Moreno said: “I find it quite surprising, rather than the other way around, that a court created by the instrument of international law would act as an instrument for aggression against an independent government.”
A member of Caracas’ most prominent opposition group, Popular Will, Freddy Guevara, was charged Thursday with violence while marching on Wednesday.
As he spoke of the crowd’s decision to march to the court, Guevara said the government had a responsibility to ensure that Venezuelans “understand that we are citizens and not criminals.”
Moreno’s appointment in November 2017 was widely seen as a failure by the Venezuelan government. The former president of the Bank of Venezuela resigned in protest. Moreno’s predecessor, Juan Guaido, was granted the right to take over the Venezuelan Supreme Court and also took office as interim president in January.