CARACAS (Reuters) – Judges on Venezuela’s Supreme Justice Tribunal on Wednesday named Gladys Gutierrez – who is under sanction by the United States – as the court’s new president.
Gutierrez is one of 20 judges that Venezuela’s ruling-party controlled National Assembly appointed to the South American country’s top court earlier this week.
She replaces Maikel Moreno, who held the post as president for five years and has also been sanctioned by the United States.
Both the new supreme court president and her predecessor were sanctioned in 2017 for decisions regarding opposition lawmakers and what Washington said were actions counter to the rule of law.
Advocacy groups and critics of Venezuela’s government view the court – which the assembly recently trimmed from 32 magistrates to 20, arguing it will speed rulings – as an extension of the country’s ruling party.
“We assume this responsibility, encouraged by the feelings of the people who trust in the judiciary,” Gutierrez said in a statement made via state television.
She also thanked President Nicolas Maduro for “pushing this new step in perfecting the justice system.”
Gutierrez held the same post between 2013 and 2017.
United Nations investigators said last year Venezuela’s justice system has perpetuated human rights violations as part of a state policy to suffocate opponents of the Maduro government, accusations which Maduro denies.
(Reporting by Mayela Armas, writing by Oliver Griffin, editing by Richard Pullin)