CARACAS – The Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) annulled on Thursday the process of the appointment of judges by the pro-opposition National Assembly – the country’s parliament – just one day before 33 new judges were due to be sworn in office.
The Supreme Court said it was nullifying the process because it was unconstitutional and had led to “the crime of usurpation of functions,” and warned of “legal consequences.”
It added that the assembly was in contempt of court, and therefore “all their acts are void, lacking in validity and legal effectiveness.”
The opposition and Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz say the 33 Supreme Court judges appointed in December 2015, days before pro-Chavez deputies lost control of the Assembly, are illegitimate due to irregularities that occurred during the selection process.
Ortega Diaz has raised questions about the judges and said that one of them, a current member of the Constitutional Chamber, was not evaluated by the Republican Moral Council but deliberately appointed by the National Assembly that was at the time presided over by the pro-Chavez Diosdado Cabello.
The opposition, which currently holds a majority, approved the appointment of the 33 judges on July 18 and agreed that they would be sworn into office on Friday.
The measure was part of an anti-Chavez movement to put pressure on the government, which began with a referendum on July 16 in which 7.5 million people participated, according to the organizers.
The referendum result showed that 98 percent of voters rejected the changes in the constitution promoted by the government, wanted the armed forces to comply with parliament’s decisions and called for elections and a transitional government.
Venezuela has been experiencing a wave of social and political upheaval since April 1, which has so far left 98 dead, some 2,000 wounded and thousands arrested.