Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Christian Zerpa has fled to the US to protest President Nicolás Maduro, according to Monday reports.
Maduro was recently reelected to a second term in May 2018. The election was widely criticized with the opposition party boycotting the vote and a number of countries including the US, Canada, the EU and a dozen Latin American countries announcing they would not recognize the results of the election even before the votes had been taken. The government additionally barred a number of citizens from voting.
Zerpa had been a supporter of Maduro until his recent escape to the US. Zerpa was responsible for writing a key 2016 decision that allowed Maduro to strip the Venezuelan Congress of its powers. Zerpa now says that last year’s election was not “free and competitive” and that the Supreme Court is “an appendage of the Executive Branch”. Zerpa claims to have withheld criticism until now to ensure his and his family’s safe escape from the country.
The Venezuelan Supreme Court released a statement in response to Zerpa’s flight alleging that it was actually a flight from allegations of misconduct. The Supreme Court admits to having started an internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Zerpa against a number of women who worked in his office, many of whom resigned or transferred out of the office due to his behavior. The statement goes on to say that Zerpa was due to be dismissed and states that the Supreme Court will not be tainted by someone of such criminal conduct.