Venezuela’s Maduro says would take FBI help over ‘murder plot’

CARACAS, Aug 12, 2018 (AFP) : President Nicolas Maduro has said he
would allow FBI agents come to Venezuela to help investigate a recent alleged
plot to kill him with explosive drones — but with conditions.

If US officials confirm “the offer for the FBI to investigate links in
Florida with the assassination plan… I would agree for the FBI to come
here,” Maduro said at an event with top military leaders late on Saturday.

The incident took place on the evening of August 4 when Maduro said he was
targeted by an explosives-laden drone at a military parade in Caracas which
was broadcast live on TV.

Maduro has blamed the attack on “terrorist cells” in Florida led by a man
called Osman Delgado Tabosky, whom he claims was behind the plot. The state
is home to a large community of Venezuelan immigrants.

His apparent willingness to accept the FBI’s help came after Foreign
Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Wednesday that Washington’s charge d’affairs
in Caracas, James Story, had expressed “the willingness of his government to
cooperate” in the investigation of the plot.

During the incident, an explosion occurred above Maduro’s head as he was
speaking then when a second explosion was heard, the troops could be seen
scattering in panic. – Ten suspects detained –

Authorities have arrested 10 suspects whom they accuse of involvement
backed by support from neighboring Colombia as well as from people living in
the United States.

Maduro has repeatedly accused Washington of conspiring to oust him, with
relations between the two countries so frosty that ambassadors have not been
exchanged since 2010.

Following the drone incident, President Donald Trump’s National Security
Advisor John Bolton insisted there had been “no US government involvement.”

But he said that if Venezuela had “hard information” about any violation of
US law, Washington would “take a serious look at it.”

Trump has harshly criticized Maduro’s leftist regime, saying it has
“destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology.”

On Saturday, Maduro again pointed the finger at former Colombian president
Juan Manuel Santos of involvement in the suspected plot — charges Bogota has
dismissed as “absurd and unfounded.”

The drone incident came just days after Santos told AFP Maduro’s days were
numbered, saying “that regime has to fall.”

– Opposition lawmaker held –

One of those arrested on suspicion of involvement is opposition lawmaker
Juan Requesens, with the government claiming he had admitted contact with a
second detainee who had allegedly confessed to participating in the purported
attack.

On Saturday, some 300 anti-government protesters marched in Caracas
demanding the release of the 29-year-old lawmaker. Relatives say neither they
nor his lawyer, have been able to reach him.

Venezuela’s all-powerful Constituent Assembly, which is stacked with Maduro
loyalists and has usurped the powers of the opposition-dominated National
Assembly, has stripped Requesens of his parliamentary immunity along with
another lawmaker, Julio Borges, so they can be put on trial.

The Supreme Court had on Wednesday ordered the arrest of Borges, a former
National Assembly speaker in exile in Colombia, for “attempted murder” over
his suspected role in the drone incident.

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