In its first session, Venezuela’s pro-government constituent assembly takes the dramatic step of firing the state prosecutor, Luisa Ortega, who is a leading challenger to President Nicolas Maduro. Ashraf Fahim reports.
Venezuela's new pro-government constituent assembly has removed the country's dissident state prosecutor, in what critics are calling an affront to democracy. Luisa Ortega has been President Nicolas Maduro's main challenger from within the ruling socialist movement since protests erupted in April. The assembly made Ortega's removal its first act in its inaugural session on Saturday. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ASSEMBLY MEMBER, DIOSDADO CABELLO, SAYING: "Luisa Ortega Diaz has already been suspended from her position as chief prosecutor and additionally, she has been blocked from leaving the country and her accounts have been frozen." Earlier security forces took up position in front of her office, blocking her from entering. Ortega was jostled as she and her supporters tried to push their way through. (SOUNDBITE)(English) LUISA ORTEGA DIAZ, VENEZUELA CHIEF PROSECUTOR, SAYING: "I will keep fighting until we achieve human rights and rescue freedom because this country lost its freedom." The new legislative body has no checks on its powers, and critics say Ortega's ouster is an ominous sign of a swing by Maduro into full-blown dictatorship. More than 120 people have died in four months of sustained marches against Maduro. The constituent assembly replaced Ortega with Maduro's human rights ombudsman, Tarek Saab, a government ally who the opposition says has turned a blind eye to state abuses.