Former defence minister detained for questioning in corruption case
Former Venezuelan defence minister Raul Baduel, a current leader of the opposition to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, was detained Friday for questioning in a corruption case, officials said.
Military prosecutor Nelson Morales said Baduel refused to appear before a court that is investigating an alleged misuse of public funds when he commanded the Venezuelan Army from 2004 to 2006, reported dpa.
Military intelligence officers were following the judge's orders as they took Baduel from the central Venezuelan city of Maracay, where the retired general lives, to the court in Caracas, Morales said.
Officials made it clear that Baduel was not arrested, as had originally been reported.
Baduel told Globovision TV that the operation was "violent" and that no public prosecutor was present at the time.
"This is an outrage. I do not know the reasons why it was done in this violent way," he said. "They say it is because I did not heed earlier summons, something that is untrue, because on April 12 I voluntarily appeared before the court."
Baduel was in command of an armoured battalion in Maracay and was key to restoring Chavez to power following the attempted coup of April 11, 2002.
He was defence minister for about a year in 2006-2007, but then grew distant from Chavez and has since strongly criticised the president's self-proclaimed socialism.
Chavez called Baduel a "traitor" last year, for claiming that a constitutional reform proposed by the president - which was eventually defeated in a referendum - was a coup d'état.