International criminal court opens office in Venezuela amid probe

FILE PHOTO: International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attend a meeting at the Miraflores Palace, in Caracas, Venezuela, November 3, 2021. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

CARACAS (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened an office in Venezuela, prosecutor Karim Khan said on Friday following a meeting with the country's President Nicolas Maduro.

The ICC is investigating Venezuela for possible crimes against humanity.

With the agreement, the ICC hopes to work "more closely" with Venezuela, and to help in the implementation of judicial reforms, guaranteeing "more justice" in the South American country, Khan said at an opening event.

"I am sure that this office will add positive practices (...) It will surely have a very favorable impact," Maduro said.

The official gave no further details about the operation and the number of staff the office will have.

Khan said in March 2022 the ICC would open an office in Venezuela's capital Caracas. The body announced in November 2021 a preliminary investigation into possible crimes against humanity allegedly committed since 2017 by officials in Maduro's government.

Maduro said at the time he respected the decision but did not share it.

A team of United Nations investigators said that Venezuela's judicial system has perpetuated human rights violations as part of a state policy to quash opposition to Maduro.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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