Venezuelan opposition leader seeking asylum

Caracas, April 21 (Inditop) Venezuelan opposition leader Manuel Rosales, who has gone into hiding last month after a corruption case against him was resurrected, is seeking asylum in a friendly nation, his party said Monday.

A team from the UNT party “is working with a friendly country” to arrange political asylum for Rosales, UNT chairman Omar Barboza said, without disclosing the name of nation they are in talk with.

Rosales, who founded the UNT party and ran against Hugo Chavez in the 2006 presidential election, will address Venezuelans within 48 hours on the matter, Barboza added.

The opposition leader’s allies say he is hiding as he doubts that he cannot get a fair trial in the case, which dates back to Sep 13, 2004, when Chavez ally Jose Pirela filed a criminal complaint against Rosales alleging graft. Rosales was the then-governor of the oil-rich state of Zulia.

Rosales was due to appear in a court Monday to explain what he says are politically motivated corruption charges.

The case has sparked criticism that the leftist Chavez, who last year vowed to jail Rosales, is using the legal system to carry out witch-hunts against opposition leaders who won key posts in November’s elections for governors and mayors.

In an open letter he released last Tuesday from hiding, Rosales said that, along with the “democratic forces … we will intelligently confront the hunt and the lynching that Chavez has ordered against me.”