US offers $5M reward for information leading to arrest of Venezuela chief justice
US offers $5M reward for information leading to arrest of Venezuela chief justice

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the United States government will offer a reward of up to $5M for information leading to the arrest or conviction of the President of Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice, Maikel José Moreno Pérez. Pompeo alleged Tuesday that:

[Moreno] has personally received money or property bribes to influence the outcome of civil and criminal cases in Venezuela. Moreno Perez received the bribes in exchange for judicial actions, such as directing lower-court judges to release specific defendants or to dismiss particular cases, in over 20 judicial proceedings.

The Transnational Organized Crime Program is providing the reward. Further, both Moreno and his wife are barred from entering the US. In March, a federal court in Florida charged Moreno with money laundering.

Moreno, an ally of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, has led the Supreme Tribunal of Justice since February 2017, having previously acted as head of the criminal division of Venezuela’s highest court. In his current position, Moreno has played an essential role in annulling National Assembly laws, for which the US sanctioned Moreno in 2017.

The call for information comes one week after the UN Human Rights Council issued a report which expressed concern over the independence of the Venezuelan judiciary. The report stated: “OHCHR observed that decisions of the Supreme Court related to the National Assembly were inconsistent and raised concerns about political considerations prevailing over legal determinations.”

Dozens of nations, including the US, do not recognize the Maduro government. Instead, they recognize Juan Guaidó, leader of the National Assembly, as the interim president.