Venezuelan Supreme Court Judge Defects to US
A Venezuelan Supreme Court judge has fled to the United States to protest the second six-year term of President Nicolas Maduro, who is to be sworn in January 10.
In an exclusive interview with Miami-based broadcaster EVTV Sunday, Christian Tyrone Zerpa said he decided to leave Venezuela to disavow the government of Nicolas Maduro.
“I believe (Maduro) does not deserve a second chance because the election he supposedly won was not free and competitive,” Zerpa said. He said that many of the decisions taken by the Venezuelan Supreme Court were illegitimate because Maduro “would tell justices how to rule on certain cases.”
Zerpa told EVTV that he did not criticize Maduro’s May 2018 elections while in the country to make sure that he and his wife and their two daughters would safely exit from Venezuela.
Referring to Zerpa as a former magistrate, the Venezuelan Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia or TSJ) confirmed in a statement that he had defected to U.S. but said that Zerpa was fleeing allegations that he sexually harassed women working in his office.
Zerpa had been a crucial ally of Maduro since he was appointed to the high court.
News of Zerpa’s defection came a day after the opposition-controlled National Assembly of Venezuela declared Maduro’s presidency illegitimate and called for a transitional government to organize democratic elections.
The United States, the European Union and a group of countries from the Western Hemisphere called the Lima Group have not recognized the Venezuelan election of May 20th.