Venezuelan judges and opposition leader flee to Chilean Embassy

© REUTERS/ Ueslei Marcelino

A judge from Venezuela's alternative top court took shelter on Thursday at the Chilean Embassy in Caracas, which already hosts four his colleagues and an opposition leader, the Chilean foreign minister said.

Judges began fleeing to the diplomatic mission after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro threatened to jail 33 Supreme Court justices sworn in on July 21 by the opposition-controlled parliament.

"Lawyer Luis Marcano came to our residence asking for Chile's protection. With him, six people are [hiding] at the Chilean Embassy," Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz tweeted.

The mission is also sheltering judges Suleima Gonzalez, Elenis del Valle Rodriguez, Beatriz Ruiz and Jose Nunez, and Roberto Enriquez from the opposition COPEI party, who requested diplomatic protection.

Nearly-daily protests have been rocking Venezuela since early April after the top court briefly took over legislative powers from the defiant parliament. More than 120 people have died as a result of protest-related violence.

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