Opposition supporters hold up El Nacional.
An opposition supporter holds a newspaper with a picture of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government and to support Lopez, in Caracas June 8, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The Venezuelan attorney general’s office announced last Wednesday that it had issued subpoenas to seven people -- including opposition leader and former lawmaker María Corina Machado and Miguel Henrique Otero, editor of opposition newspaper El Nacional -- for their involvement in an alleged plot to assassinate president Nicolás Maduro. Three of the others called by the attorney general – businessmen and former head of state oil company PDVSA Pedro Burelli; former governor and presidential candidate Henrique Salas Römer; and lawyer and retired sheriff Ricardo Koesling, who lives in Trinidad and Tobago -- say they will disregard the subpoena.

The other two are Robert Alonso Bustillos and Gustavo Tarre, a professor of constitutional law and former lawmaker who called the alleged assassination plot a “smoke screen to cover up the real problems facing Venezuelans.” The government has offered little convincing proof; in late May, it brandished emails sent by Corina Machado to a US envoy to Colombia in which the ex-deputy calls for financing to “crush” Maduro as proof of her intent to have him assassinated.

The news came a day before another prominent face in the opposition’s most conservative sector, former Caracas district mayor and Popular Will party leader Leopoldo López, was ordered by a federal judge to remain in a military prison until his trial on charges including arson, damage and criminal conspiracy in connection with violence during the anti-government protests which erupted across Venezuela on February 12. López, who had helped organize the protests under the banner of “The Exit”, in reference to his call for Maduro to step down from office, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

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