CARACAS - Venezuela will hunt down and jail leaders of violent protests that have rocked the country since April, its new top prosecutor said on Thursday, a day before a hate crimes law was expected to be approved despite fears that it will be used to crush dissent.
The new law "against hate and intolerance," denounced by rights groups as a sham aimed at persecuting the opposition, was set to be approved on Friday by a new legislative superbody elected last month at the behest of President Nicolas Maduro.
Maduro loyalist Delcy Rodriguez, head of the body known as the constituent assembly, said the law would be passed before the weekend. She spoke to the assembly following a speech by chief prosecutor Tarek Saab, appointed by the assembly early this month, who vowed to track down the leaders of protests in which more than 120 people have died since the start of April.
"It will be a point of honor for the public prosecutor's office to identify who was responsible for each of the hate crimes that occurred in this country," Saab, Maduro's ex-human rights ombudsman, shouted during a speech to the assembly.
"We will search the cameras, videos, photographs. We will get images of each one of them to make sure they pay for having killed, for having hurt people and left orphans behind," he said to a standing ovation by the Socialist Party-dominated assembly.