Venezuela court drops complaint against Chavez foe

July 19, 2011 - 11:00 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's Supreme Court annulled a corruption complaint against a leading opponent of President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday.

The court's decision came just four days after it gave initial approval to the complaint against Henrique Capriles, a state governor and leading hopeful to represent the opposition in next year's presidential election.

The Supreme Court said in a statement that it had decided to quash the complaint after Chavez's socialist party said a party leader who lodged the complaint, Gerson Perez, had not been authorized to do so.

Capriles criticized both the court's initial decision to give a green light to the case and its argument for annulling it.

"The justice system has to change in our country. It has to be an impartial justice system," Capriles told the Venezuelan television channel Globovision.

If the case had gone forward, it would have opened the way for authorities to attempt to strip Capriles of his immunity from prosecution as a state governor in order to bring charges.

Capriles, 39, the governor of Miranda state, has announced plans to run in a primary planned for next February that opposition parties are using to pick a joint candidate ahead of the presidential election to be held in late 2012. He has been a leader in recent opinion polls.