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Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Venezuela coup leader heads into exile
Pedro Carmona leaves the Colombian embassy
Mr Carmona was surrounded by secret police
The Venezuelan businessman, Pedro Carmona, who briefly replaced President Hugo Chavez during last month's failed coup, is on his way to Colombia where he has been granted political asylum.

Mr Carmona was granted asylum after he fled house arrest last Thursday and took refuge in the Colombian ambassador's residence in Caracas.


We are obliged to grant him free passage. These are international legal standards that we conform to and he managed to enter the Colombian embassy

President Hugo Chavez
Mr Chavez granted him permission to travel, but labelled Mr Carmona a fugitive from Venezuelan law.

Mr Carmona, who was facing charges for his alleged role in the coup, denies that he incited rebellion and tried to usurp the presidency.

Mr Carmona was driven by car to Caracas' Simon Bolivar international airport shortly after dawn, from where he boarded a military flight bound for Bogota, local media reported.

Final destination

Security was extremely tight for his departure, with secret police officers on guard.

Mr Carmona's lawyer, Juan Martin Echeverria, said his client will probably move to a third country.

President Hugo Chavez
Chavez: Reinstated after two days

Mr Carmona had been under house arrest since the failure of the coup and fled after a court ordered that he be transferred to prison.

Mr Chavez he said he was obliged to grant Mr Carmona safe conduct because the Colombian Government had granted him asylum.

"We are obliged to grant him free passage. These are international legal standards that we conform to and he managed to enter the Colombian embassy," Mr Chavez said.

Mr Carmona denies the charges against him, saying he was asked by the Venezuelan military to form a transitional government.

He took power after violent anti-government protests resulted in 17 deaths.


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