Mexico does not sympathise with Venezuelan government, claims President

Venezuela

Venezuela

Zerpa "fled the country, exercising his constitutional right, to avoid justice and so his crimes remain unpunished", said Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno, who said the investigation began last November.

In a Friday evening state television broadcast, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Maduro would take office on January 10 in a "legitimate and constitutional" process, which he said "does not require the approval of any foreign government".

Zerpa was a member of the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) and was appointed to the high court in 2015 just days before the opposition assumed the majority in the National Assembly.

Opposition leaders have urged foreign governments not to recognize Maduro after his inauguration on Thursday, and a group of Latin American nations on Friday called on Maduro not to take office. Mr Zerpa said he did not criticise the election at the time because he wanted to ensure the safe exit of his family from Venezuela, explaining:'I've made a decision to leave Venezuela to disavow the government of Nicolas Maduro.' The defection comes as worldwide and domestic pressure is mounting on Nicolas Maduro ahead of his second presidential term and follows a day after Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly called Maduro's election in a vote last May illegitimate and declared its intention to create a transitional body to prepare for democratic elections.

Maduro is expected to start another term as president on January 10 that would keep him in power until 2025, despite the fact that the election he won in May previous year was widely dismissed as illegitimate.

"Far from separating us, it unites us", he said.

Zerpa surfaced publicly in Miami on Sunday, describing how he received directions from the influential first lady Cilia Flores on how to rule in politically sensitive cases.

Nicholas Manduro called for snap elections in May 2018 to consolidate his hold on Venezuela but his win has been slammed by opposition parties at home and other governments overseas. Food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation, and violent crime have driven nearly 2 million Venezuelans out of the country since 2015.

The opposition-controlled parliament rejected Maduro's legitimacy on Saturday. Zerpa fled because he was being investigated for sexual harassment, said Moreno.

He is among the top Venezuelan officials who have been sanctioned by Canada, but he has not been targeted by US authorities, who accuse dozens in Maduro's administration as contributing to the crisis.

He said the measure would take effect immediately.

Zerpa has also accused the Venezuelan president of managing a sham election.

"The inhuman arrogance of this dictatorship led by Nicolas Maduro personally challenges the heads of state of the region", Borges said.

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