CARACAS – Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz is plotting to overthrow the administration of President Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan government said on Friday.
Ortega and her staff “direct or form part of a coup d’etat,” Vice President Tareck El Aissami said during an on-air telephone call to state television.
The comments came hours after Ortega summoned Maduro’s intelligence chief and the recently dismissed commander of the national militarized police for questioning about alleged human rights violations over the course of more than three months of sometimes-violent protests accompanied by scores of deaths.
Though Ortega became attorney general in 2007 under late President Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s mentor, she has been at odds with the incumbent head of state in recent months.
The first flashpoint was a ruling by the pro-Maduro Supreme Court that sought to wrest authority from the opposition-controlled congress.
The high court subsequently rescinded much of the controversial decision, but Ortega and Maduro clashed again over the president’s push to convene a Constituent Assembly to revise Venezuela’s 1998 constitution, a move the attorney general has labeled illegal.
In his call to state television, El Aissami blasted Ortega for contemplating charges against spy boss Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez and erstwhile top cop Antonio Benavides, describing them as “two worthy Venezuelans, two exemplary men.”
He went on to accuse the attorney general of refusing to prosecute the leaders of the “violent terrorist right” that the government blames for the disturbances that have left 81 people dead and some 1,500 injured.
Fatalities have included both supporters and opponents of the leftist government, as well as members of the security forces, public employees, and bystanders.
A number of police and soldiers are facing charges for protest-related deaths.
The Supreme Court plans to put Ortega on trial next week, but the attorney general says she no longer recognizes the authority of a judiciary she claims is “dismantling the state.”