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Venezuela's Constituent Assembly Orders Civilian Trials for Detained Protesters


FILE - A demonstrator is arrested by riot police while rallying against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela April 10, 2017.

Venezuela's controversial Constituent Assembly on Tuesday ordered that cases of protesters detained this year be held in civilian rather than military courts, following complaints from various rights groups and the United Nations.

The country underwent four months of nationwide unrest, in which more than 120 people were killed.

FILE - A view of a session of the National Constituent Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 8, 2017.
FILE - A view of a session of the National Constituent Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 8, 2017.

Venezuelan rights group Penal Forum estimated that at least 120 people were detained during protests since April and tried in military courts. Government critics say the trials were held under military jurisdiction in order to scare people from protesting.

One of the Assembly's first moves last week was to fire dissident chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega. She is now on the run from authorities.

"We all know why these situations occurred: given the inaction and inactivity of the prosecutor's office," said the president of the pro-government Assembly, former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez, referring to the trials of civilians in military courts.

The Assembly has been criticized globally as a sign that Venezuela is turning into a dictatorship. President Nicolas Maduro says it is necessary in order to bring peace to the country.

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