Washington, Jan 7 : Former Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Christian Zerpa fled to the United States to protest President Nicolas Maduro's second term that will begin with his inauguration this week.
"I've decided to leave Venezuela to disavow the government of Nicolas Maduro," Zerpa said. "I believe Maduro does not deserve a second chance because the election he supposedly won was not free and competitive."
And he accused President Maduro of systematically manipulating the affairs of the Supreme Court, BBC reported. In response, the court said Mr Zerpa was fleeing allegations of sexual harassment. Opposition parties boycotted the 2018 vote, calling it a sham.
Mr Zerpa had been a crucial ally for Mr Maduro on the court, writing a key legal opinion in 2016 justifying the president's decision to strip congress of its powers. His ruling Socialist party had lost control of the legislature to the opposition in a landslide vote earlier that year.
Mr Zerpa called the Supreme Court "an appendage of the executive branch", saying the president would tell justices how to rule on certain cases. He said he had not publicly criticised the 2018 election result to ensure he and his family could safely flee to the US.
Mr Maduro is due to be formally inaugurated to a second term on 10 January. Fourteen countries recalled their ambassadors from Caracas in protest at the result of the vote last May, and the US imposed fresh economic sanctions on the country.
Before the election even took place, the United States, Canada, the European Union and a dozen Latin American countries said they would not recognise the results. UNI