Page last updated at 00:51 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 01:51 UK

Interpol seeks Chavez foe arrest

Venezuelan opposition leader Manuel Rosales, speaking in Lima, Pera (22/04/2009)
Mr Rosales says he is being persecuted by President Hugo Chavez

Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Venezuelan opposition leader Manuel Rosales, who fled to Peru after being charged with corruption.

Mr Rosales did not appear in court in Venezuela on Monday, so prosecutors issued a warrant for his arrest and asked Interpol to do likewise.

The former mayor of Venezuela's second largest city had been in hiding since the charges were filed in March.

He denies the charges, which he says are politically motivated.

Wilmer Flores, Venezuela's chief investigative police officer, said Interpol had a "red alert" out for the capture of Manuel Rosales.

A red alert means Interpol - an international intelligence agency which allows collaboration between individual national intelligence agencies - is seeking to arrest a person with a view to beginning the process of extradition.

Mr Rosales stepped down as mayor of Maracaibo after being charged with amassing illicit wealth.

Prosecutors say he cannot explain how he acquired $60,000 (£41,000) during his time as the governor of Zulia state.

Mr Rosales, who ran against President Hugo Chavez in the 2006 presidential election, claims he is suffering political persecution by Mr Chavez's government.

In an appearance on Venezuelan opposition television on Wednesday, Mr Rosales described Mr Chavez as a "coward" and a "little dictator".

The authorities deny that Mr Rosales and other opposition figures are being politically persecuted and say any charges against them have been filed in accordance with the law.

Javier Valle-Riestra, a prominent Peruvian legislator who is representing Mr Rosales, said they had submitted an asylum request to Peruvian authorities on Tuesday and expected a decision within two months.

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