Former Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Christian Zerpa has fled to the United States to protest President Nicolas Maduro’s second term that will begin with his inauguration this week, the onetime Maduro backer told a Miami broadcaster yesterday.
The latest defection from the crisis-stricken OPEC nation’s government comes amid growing international pressure on Maduro over his new term, which resulted from a broadly boycotted 2018 vote dismissed by countries around the world as a sham.
“I’ve decided to leave Venezuela to disavow the government of Nicolas Maduro,” Zerpa said in an interview with EVTV, which is broadcast over cable and the internet.
“I believe (Maduro) does not deserve a second chance because the election he supposedly won was not free and competitive.”
The Supreme Court confirmed in a statement that he had fled, referring to him as a former magistrate and adding it opened an investigation of him in November over accusations of sexual harassment by women in his office. The court’s leadership recommended that he be dismissed over the allegations, it said, without providing details.
Zerpa was for years a crucial ally of Maduro on the Supreme Court, which has backed the ruling Socialist Party in every major legal dispute since Maduro’s 2013 election.