The Supreme Court has dismissed the president of Venezuela’s Red Cross after more than four decades.

 

Mario Enrique Villarroel has been allegedly accused of “harassment and ill-treatment”, which the state prosecutors are investigating.

Members of the charity’s board of directors have also been sacked.

In a statement, Venezuela’s Red Cross expressed its “absolute and unrestricted support” for Mr Villarroel.

In the interim, the court has ordered a “broad and diverse restructure” of the charity.

Ricardo Cusanno, the former president of Venezuela’s largest business association, Fedecamaras, has been appointed to chair the board as part of the organisation’s restructure.

The court said the activities of the Venezuelan Red Cross would remain unharmed.

The ruling also said it would work with the attorney general’s office to prosecute the outgoing board.

Over the years, the Red Cross’s work in the country has primarily focused on preventing the humanitarian consequences of armed violence.

The charity’s work is also aimed at helping detainees and finding solutions for water shortages and food security in a troubled economy.

The international charity has asked President Nicolas Maduro’s government not to allow the court’s intervention.

On Thursday, Miguel Villarroel, vice-president of the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent National Societies, said in a video message: “I ask in the most respectful way that you do not allow arbitrary action by a state entity to stain the 128 years of life of our institution.”

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