04/24/2013 11:20 am ET

Henrique Capriles 'Has A Jail Cell Waiting For Him,' Venezuelan Official Says (VIDEO)

Venezuela’s Penitentiary Minister Iris Varela said in a televised press conference Tuesday that she had a “jail cell waiting” for opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who she accused of being addicted to hallucinogens and being a fascist and a murderer, the local press reports.

It wasn’t clear from news reports whether the Venezuelan government had actually issued an arrest warrant for Capriles, but Varela’s comments highlighted the growing tensions over the contested presidential election and ensuing protests that left seven people dead.

“The only good news for you is that the prison that’s waiting for you, Capriles Radonski, won’t be like the ones we inherited,” Varela said, referring to the period before former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez first took office in 1999.

“You have an addiction and you know it,” Varela continued, saying that an unspecified drug habit led him to provoke violence by calling protests. “When someone is under the effect of hallucinogens, they’re capable of anything,”

Varela doesn’t cite evidence her long list of serious accusations against the politician, who has contested Venezuela’s close April 14 presidential election. Capriles has called on protesters to remain peaceful.

Venezuela held presidential elections April 14 to replace Hugo Chávez, who died in March. Though polls had placed Chávez’s successor Nicolás Maduro with a comfortable lead ahead of the vote, he won by thin margin of less than 2 percentage points.

Capriles contested the results, alleging that thousands of irregularities took place and demanding a manual recount. The National Electoral Council instead ordered an audit, which Capriles accepted, according to Reuters.

In Venezuela, each vote is tallied both electronically and on paper. An audit of the votes is a process that checks to make sure paper copy of the ballot matches the electronic record.

Protests followed the contested election, leading to seven deaths, which the Maduro government has blamed Capriles for personally. He routinely calls Capriles and his supporters “fascists.”

Spanish speakers can watch Varela making her accusations in the video above.


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