Venezuela ToDdemand U.S. Extradite Former President

Tuesday, February 27th 2007, 9:39 pm
By: News On 6

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Venezuela will request the extradition of former President Carlos Andres Perez, who is living in the United States, to face accusations of abuses committed by security forces during violent street protests in 1989, an official said Tuesday.

State prosecutor Alis Farina told a news conference that authorities were making preparations ``to request an extradition'' and that a warrant for Perez's arrest issued in 2005 was still active.

The 85-year-old former leader is accused of helping to oversee and carry out a plan to quell violent protests in February 1989 that left about 340 people dead.

Authorities crushed the protests _ sparked by a hike in subsidized gasoline prices and public transport fares _ and took over the streets of Caracas.

Perez and high-ranking military officials at the time have said they simply re-established order in a chaotic and dangerous situation. Activists say soldiers and police fired indiscriminately into the crowds and claim hundreds more died than what official figures suggest.

Investigations into the deaths were bogged down for more than a decade but have picked up in recent years under President Hugo Chavez, who has repeatedly described the event as a massacre.

Chavez, a former paratroop commander, has said the event was one of the reasons he decided to lead a failed coup again Perez in 1992.

Perez, who governed Venezuela from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1993, faces separate charges of embezzlement. He was impeached in May 1993 and tried for corruption. He has been living outside of Venezuela since 2000.