July 5 (UPI) -- Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz has refused to attend hearings against her in the high court, which could replace her with an official sanctioned by the U.S. government for corruption.
The Supreme Tribunal of Justice, or TSJ, on Tuesday began a process to determine whether Ortega Díaz should face a trial over the "alleged commission of serious misconduct in the exercise of her office."
Among allegations, Ortega Díaz is accused of "violating the respect" of the Venezuelan republic by criticizing Venezuelan officials, including Ombudsman Tarek William Saab and General Comptroller Manuel Galindo.
Ortega Díaz also criticized President Nicolas Maduro's regime for supporting "state terrorism" by enabling the violent repression by security forces of anti-government protesters.
Ortega Díaz on Tuesday described the case against her as a "grotesque" coup d'etat seeking to undermine Venezuela's Constitution.
"I have not committed crimes or misdemeanors and I will not submit to that unconstitutional and illegitimate court. This is a procedural and shameful fraud: They want to intimidate me, to me keep quiet so I do not continue to speak truths, as the rupture of the constitutional order still persists in Venezuela," Ortega Díaz said during a speech at the Public Ministry headquarters in Caracas.
To address questions as to why she is not attending the TSJ hearings, Ortega Díaz said she will not validate "this circus that will taint our history with shame and pain," adding that she does not recognize the orders carried out by the TSJ.
The TSJ on Tuesday swore in Katherine Haringhton, formerly the national level prosecutor of the 20th District Office of Venezuela's Public Ministry, as the deputy attorney general.
Haringhton is among Venezuelan officials sanctioned by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015 for taking actions that undermine Venezuela's democratic processes and for being deemed corrupt, among other reasons.
The TSJ said it would determine whether Ortega Díaz will face trial by early next week. The Venezuelan opposition has accused the TSJ of unconstitutionally setting up Haringhton, who is loyal to President Nicolas Maduro's regime, to ultimately replace Ortega Díaz.
The Venezuelan Constitution gives the National Assembly legislature the power to appoint attorney generals and deputy attorney generals, but the TSJ has largely stripped the unicameral chamber of power by accusing it of being in contempt, saying it oversteps its authority -- primarily citing the opposition's efforts to remove Maduro from power.
The TSJ last week froze the assets of Ortega Díaz and banned her from leaving the country. Members of the Venezuelan opposition accuse Maduro's regime of attempting to push out Ortega Díaz from her position because she no longer faithfully aligns herself to the socialist government.