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Exiled Venezuela supreme court justices hear corruption charges against Nicolás Maduro

[JURIST] Exiled Venezuelan supreme court justices [Twitter page, in Spanish] met in Bogota, Colombia, Tuesday to conduct a preliminary hearing on corruption allegations against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro brought by the country's former top prosecutor, Attorney General Luisa Ortega.

The self-proclaimed judicial body met in the main chambers of the Colombian Congress.

Like the judges of the court, Ortega is a former Venezuelan public official who fled the country due to political opposition by Maduro's administration.

The allegations brought by Ortega claim Maduro accepted bribes from foreign construction companies. The construction companies allegedly reaped billions of dollars in profits, and officials like Maduro made millions while construction projects were never completed. Ortega alleged that Maduro, who was foreign minister at the time, accepted campaign contributions by constructions companies like Odebrecht while in office. Maduro requested and received campaign contributions on behalf of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. Ortega also claimed Maduro solicited campaign money from Odebrecht after Chavez' death. This happened despite a national economic crisis and food shortage.

To support her charges, Ortega presented bank documents, immigration records and audio recordings. The evidence remains sealed at this time. Ortega called for the Venezuela's military to arrest Maduro. During the hearing, Ortega announced intention to seek an arrest warrant for Maduro by INTERPOL.

Since Maduro was not present during the hearing, public defense counsel was appointed for the defendant.

The Venezuelan government considers the exiled supreme court a criminal organization and has issued arrest warrants against its members. The Supreme Court of Justice was formed on October 13, 2017. Its stated purpose was to maintain political opposition against Maduro administration and attempt to restore democracy in Venezuela.

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