By Rafael Romo, Elwyn Lopez, Marilia Brocchetto and Ray Sanchez
(CNN)Venezuela’s Attorney General Luisa Ortega on Thursday announced charges against the former head of the national guard, accusing him of systematic human rights violations during sometimes deadly anti-government demonstrations.
The announcement came amid fresh clashes between police and protesters on the rain-soaked streets of Caracas. A day earlier, Venezuela’s Supreme Court banned Ortega from leaving the country and ordered her assets frozen, ahead of a hearing scheduled for July 4.
That inquiry, which was requested by an ally of embattled President Nicolas Maduro, will seek to determine if Ortega committed unspecified “grave errors while in her position.”
Ortega, a vocal critic of Maduro’s government, could face a trial.
Ortega’s office, in a statement Thursday, said former National Guard Commander Antonio Benavides Torres has been charged in connection with “serious and systematic human rights violations” during the ongoing demonstrations.
Benavides Torres was sanctioned for human rights abuses by the White House in 2015. This month, Human Rights Watch accused him — along with other high-level officials — of failing to take steps to prevent or punish violations.
Benavides Torres was removed from his National Guard post last week and named head of government of the Capital District.
The attorney general’s statement, referring to alleged abuses by authorities during more than 80 days of demonstrations, said: “In a great number of these incidents, there is evidence of excessive use of force in repressing protests.”
The political turmoil gripping the country took a surreal turn on Wednesday with an audacious attack on the Supreme Court, with grenades and gunfire being launched from a police helicopter.
That helicopter was found Wednesday in a rural part of the country, but the man authorities say piloted the aircraft — Oscar Perez — is still on the run.