Venezuelan mayor charged with plotting against government

 Venezuela`s attorney general`s office said Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, a prominent opposition leader, has been formally charged with conspiracy in connection with an alleged plot against President Nicolas Maduro`s leftist government.

Caracas: Venezuela`s attorney general`s office said Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, a prominent opposition leader, has been formally charged with conspiracy in connection with an alleged plot against President Nicolas Maduro`s leftist government.

In the arraignment, prosecutors accused the mayor of the crimes of conspiracy and criminal association, the AG`s office said Friday in a statement.

The Caracas-based court ordered the mayor jailed at the Ramo Verde military prison, where another high profile opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, has been held since Feb 18, 2014.

Ledezma was arrested Thursday in connection with the case of Lorent Gomez Saleh and Gabriel Valles, two student activists deported from Colombia and detained in Venezuela in September on conspiracy and rebellion charges, the AG`s office said.

Miguel Rodriguez Torres, who was Venezuela`s interior minister at the time of those arrests, linked Ledezma to Gomez`s and Valles`s purported plot and said the student activists were backed by hard-line Colombian ex-president Alvaro Uribe.

The Caracas mayor acknowledged then, last September, that he knew the two young people but stressed "that does not mean forming part of a terrorist network backed by Colombian former president Alvaro Uribe to destabilise Venezuela".

Intelligence agents arrested Ledezma Thursday at the headquarters of his party, the Fearless People`s Alliance, in Caracas.

Last week, the mayor of the municipality of Libertador, Jorge Rodriguez, a former Venezuelan vice president and member of Maduro`s socialist PSUV party, accused Ledezma and opposition lawmaker Julio Borges of being behind a purported coup that, according to Maduro, was thwarted a day before it was to have been carried out Feb 12.

A number of air force officers were among the people detained, Maduro said Feb 13, insisting that the plotters` strategy was "devised from Washington".

Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said on live television that same day, flanked by the armed forces` chiefs, that Venezuela`s armed forces remained squarely behind Maduro`s government.

The Venezuelan opposition has dismissed the report of the coup plot as a "fantasy story".

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