THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The New York Times
December 11, 2008
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan prosecutors formally charged a leading opposition figure with corruption on Thursday, as President Hugo Chávez pushed forward with plans for a referendum to end term limits.
The figure, Manuel Rosales, was charged with presumed illicit enrichment during his two terms as governor of oil-rich Zulia State. The crime is punishable by 3 to 10 years in prison.
Mr. Rosales, who ran against Mr. Chávez in the 2006 presidential election, denied any wrongdoing.
“They are trying to lynch me politically in order to remove me from the political map,” he said.
The charges are based on an investigation, prosecutors said in a statement, but they did not disclose details.
Mr. Chávez kicked off a petition drive on Thursday for a referendum to abolish term limits, which he had previously said he supported.