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SA Ambassador to Venezuela: Cotler not Mandela's lawyer

Entorno Inteligente, Thursday February 5 2015

The South African ambassador to Venezuela has refuted claims that a Canadian MP representing the leader of violent anti-government protests was once late president Nelson Mandela's lawyer.

The claim had been made by the Venezuelan Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party, ahead of Canadian Liberal Party MP Irwin Cotler's forthcoming visit to the South American nation. 

Popular Will national political coordinator Carlos Vecchio, who is currently a fugitive from Venezuelan justice in Canada on similar charges, said Mr Cotler said Mr Cotler had joined the legal defence team of Voluntad Popular founder and national coordinator Leopoldo López, which will soon visit Venezuela.

Mr Lopez is currently in Ramo Verde prison while being tried on charges of arson, terrorism and murder in relation to the violent Guarimba protests aimed at overthrowing the elected government last year.

“Irwin Cotler was not Nelson Mandela's lawyer and does not in any way represent the government or people of South Africa,” confirmed ambassador Thaninga Pandit Shope-Linney at a meeting with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez to strengthen ties between the two nations, according to a press release by the Foreign Ministry this Thursday.

Voluntad Popular was formed in 2009, in opposition to the United Socialist Party (PSUV) government of late president Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro.

Translation and additional reporting by James Tweedie

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