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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Colombian 'plotters' face charges
Suspected Colombian paramilitary members
The alleged paramilitaries were shown on TV after their arrest
Military prosecutors in Venezuela have charged more than 60 Colombians with plotting to overthrow Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

They were arrested near Caracas last month, accused of being paramilitaries sent to undermine the government.

Several Venezuelan army officers are also accused of involvement.

Mr Chavez, facing a referendum on his rule in August, says the US and Colombia are directing plots against him; both countries deny this.


The 64 Colombian suspects were among more than 100 people, mainly Colombians, arrested by Venezuelan forces at a farm outside the capital in May.

The authorities allege that five serving members of the Venezuelan military were also involved in the conspiracy.

President Chavez
Chavez is campaigning hard ahead of the vote on his rule
The Colombians were being asked to point out the Venezuelan suspects at an identity parade on Friday.

President Chavez has said the presence of alleged Colombian paramilitaries amounts to an invasion of Venezuelan territory.

He has accused the Colombian and US governments of working with powerful groups inside Venezuela to overthrow him. Both governments have rejected the accusations.

The Venezuelan opposition has dismissed the mass arrests and conspiracy allegations as an attempt to deflect attention away from the referendum on Mr Chavez's presidency set for 15 August.

The opposition managed to garner enough backing to push through the referendum in a bid to unseat Mr Chavez who they accuse of behaving increasingly like a dictator.

The president's supporters praise him for improving the lives of the poor with extensive social programmes.

Chavez attacks 'invasion plot'
13 May 04  |  Americas
Moment of truth nears for Chavez
10 Jun 04  |  Americas
Q&A: Venezuela's recall referendum
09 Jun 04  |  Americas
Country profile: Venezuela
24 Jun 04  |  Country profiles

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