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Colombia Gives Asylum to Chavez Opponent - 2002-05-27


Colombia has granted political asylum to Venezuelan businessman Pedro Carmona, who was briefly installed as Venezuelan president last month after President Hugo Chavez was deposed in a brief coup.

The Colombian Foreign Ministry made the announcement late Sunday, three days after Mr. Carmona sought refuge at the Colombian embassy in Caracas.

The 61-year-old Mr. Carmona had been under house arrest in Caracas, but late Thursday, Venezuelan officials said he eluded police posted outside his apartment and fled to the Colombian embassy.

A vocal critic of President Chavez, Mr. Carmona helped organize a general strike and march leading up to the failed coup. Mr. Carmona was installed as president on April 12. Mr. Chavez regained power on April 14 and Mr. Carmona was arrested.

The businessman faced trial for rebellion and conspiracy and faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Mr. Carmona has denied conspiring to overthrow President Chavez and says he accepted the presidency because he believed Mr. Chavez had resigned.

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