(REUTERS) – Francisco Belisario, a Venezuelan mayor, retired general and member of the ruling Socialist party, had enough. His loudest local critic had accused him of bungling the response to the coronavirus outbreak and other big problems.
In August, he wrote a state prosecutor and requested an "exhaustive investigation" of his nemesis, Giovanni Urbaneja, a former lawmaker who had become a gadfly to the mayor and other Socialist officeholders. Urbaneja, Belisario wrote in a letter reviewed by Reuters, was conducting a "ferocious smear campaign" on Facebook and elsewhere.
Urbaneja not only defamed him and President Nicolas Maduro, the mayor wrote. He violated Venezuela's Law Against Hate. The law, passed in 2017 but rarely used before this year, criminalizes actions that "incite hatred" against a person or group.
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