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Venezuela's supreme court dismisses presidential election lawsuit

August 07, 2013|By Mery Mogollon and Chris Kraul
  • Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles delivers a speech during a protest against corruption in Caracas on Aug. 3, 2013.
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles delivers a speech during… (Leo Ramirez / AFP/Getty…)

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed opposition leader Henrique Capriles' lawsuit seeking the nullification of April presidential election results and alleging voter irregularities and levied a $1,500 fine against him for "offensive and disrespectful allegations" against the court and other officials.

The court also asked public prosecutors to make a “detailed analysis” of whether criminal charges should be filed against Capriles for having made unfounded favoritism charges against government officials.

After his narrow loss to President Nicolas Maduro, the late Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Capriles alleged that the election had been stolen from him and that he had more than 3,000 examples of irregularities at polling places across Venezuela.

Capriles later complained that the National Electoral Commission, which is controlled by Maduro loyalists, failed to investigate any of his allegations of improprieties. At a news conference Wednesday, court president Gladys Gutierrez dismissed Capriles' allegations.

“All the supporting documents provided [to make a case] against the results of the presidential elections were inadmissible as they failed to provide sufficient evidence,” Gutierrez said. Her court is the final arbiter of Venezuelan legal issues and its decisions cannot be appealed.

Also on Wednesday, members of the armed forces’ military counterintelligence unit raided the residence of Oscar Lopez, who serves as Capriles’ chief of staff in his capacity as governor of Miranda state. Lopez told reporters afterward that those conducting the raid took personal documents, telephones and computers.

Lopez said he didn’t know the reason for the raid, but said it may have to do with accusations lodged by National Assembly members of the PSUV party headed by Maduro alleging unspecified irregularities.

In a message on his Twitter social network account, Capriles blamed Maduro for the raid, called him a "coward" and said it was an attempt to divert the public’s attention from Venezuela's social problems, including soaring crime, double digit inflation and food scarcities.

"Unpopular and illegitimate government that mocks its own support base, you have to put on a circus to distract us,” Capriles wrote.

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Special correspondents Mogollon reported from Caracas and Kraul from Bogota, Colombia.

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