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Venezuelan Lawmakers Pass Bill to Free Political Activists

  • VOA News

FILE - Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, speaks to her husband supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, Sept. 11, 2015. Bill, which was approved late Tuesday, would free more than 70 people who have spoken out against Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

FILE - Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, speaks to her husband supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, Sept. 11, 2015. Bill, which was approved late Tuesday, would free more than 70 people who have spoken out against Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature has passed a measure to grant amnesty to dozens of jailed political activists, setting up a political clash with President Nicolas Maduro.

The bill, which was approved late Tuesday, would free more than 70 people who have spoken out against Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez. One of those prisoners is opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is serving a 14-year sentence for inciting an anti-government protest in 2014 that left 43 people dead.

As lawmakers were debating the bill, Maduro promised to veto it during a nationally televised speech, claiming it would pardon "murderers... terrorists and criminals."

If the legislature overrides his veto, the president could submit it to the Supreme Court, which could block the bill.

Since winning control of the legislature last December, Venezuela’s opposition alliance has launched a campaign to remove President Maduro from office. But any means they approve of would likely be rejected by the high court, which the president's critics claim he has packed with allies.

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