CARACAS – Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) designated on Tuesday Katherine Harrington to be the country’s new assistant attorney general, one day after the opposition-controlled Parliament confirmed Rafael Gonzalez – appointed by Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz on April 17 – to the post.
The president of the Constitutional Chamber of the high court, Juan Mendoza Jover, said that Gonzalez’s appointment had been nullified because it was not initially reviewed by the legislature which, the TSJ claimed, is “in rebellion,” and thus Ortega Diaz should have submitted her decision to the Supreme Court for its evaluation.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in 2015 named Harrington to be assistant minister for the Comprehensive Criminal Investigation System and she is considered by the opposition to be an ally of the Bolivarian Revolution for having filed charges against several jailed leaders of the political opposition.
Harrington, who was sanctioned by Washington in 2015 by having her assets frozen and being prohibited from entering the US, took the oath of office before the media but made no public remarks.
During the presentation of its report and other documentation in 2015, Ortega Diaz described Harrington as a “courageous woman” and – in the face of the sanctions imposed by the US Treasury – she gave her her full support.
“Not only the support of the attorney general, but of the entire Public Ministry, and I’m sure that the entire Venezuelan people are with you ... They are attempting to prevent the prosecutors from carrying out their duties, they want to prevent Katherine from working,” Ortega Diaz said.
Harrington has been linked to accusations against several opposition leaders, including former lawmaker Maria Corina Machado, Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma – currently under house arrest – and former Venezuelan diplomat Diego Arria.
The attorney general has distanced herself from the government by denouncing the rupture of the constitutional order by the high court and by opposing the rewriting of the Constitution proposed by Maduro, for which Venezuela’s socialist Chavista government has branded her a “traitor.”
In addition, the TSJ on Tuesday is scheduled to launch legal proceedings against Ortega Diaz that could lead to her removal from office, which would leave two assistant attorneys general – Harrington and Gonzalez – in place as potential candidates for moving into the top slot at the AG’s Office.