Venezuela's president meets with accuser in ongoing criminal probe into human rights abuse

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met with the head of the International Criminal Court as he faces an ongoing investigation by the tribunal into crimes against humanity for his crackdown on anti-government protests.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan's fourth visit to Venezuela comes almost two months after an appeals panel ruled that the court’s investigation could proceed over the objections of Maduro’s government.

Khan said he was hopeful that, even as its independent investigation continues, the ICC could supply technical assistance to Venezuelan authorities so that there could be "meaningful justice” in the country.

“I think there is unity on a central truth: that the dark cloud of suspicion or allegations will not lift without the gentle breeze or winds of credible investigations,” Khan said after his meeting with Venezuela's chief prosecutor.

The U.S. is not a party to the Netherlands-based ICC but has backed the probe, originally proposed by several Latin American nations, into Maduro’s responsibility for alleged abuses including arbitrary detention, torture and sexual violence committed by security forces deployed to quell protests in 2017.

The appeals judges, in announcing their ruling in March, said that Venezuelan investigations appeared to be focused on low-level perpetrators. The ICC seeks to prosecute senior commanders deemed responsible for crimes.

The judges also noted that “Venezuela appears to have taken limited investigative steps and that, in many cases, there appear to be periods of unexplained investigative inactivity,” the court said in its statement.

They also said that the domestic investigations in Venezuela did not appear to sufficiently cover parts of the international probe — including allegations of persecution and sexual crimes.


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