Venezuela: Nab 2nd Chavez foe

CARACAS: Venezuela has sought Interpol's help in seeking the arrest of Alfredo Pena, a political opponent of President Hugo Chavez who is facing corruption allegations, the Attorney General's Office said Thursday.

It was the second such request in eight days. At Venezuela's request, Intepol issued a "red notice" last week for the arrest of an opposition leader who has received political asylum in Peru. Suspects with red-notice status appear on Interpol's equivalent of a most-wanted list.

Prosecutors say they are investigating allegations that Pena pocketed public money during his 2001-04 term as mayor of Caracas.

Pena was a close ally of Chavez until 2002, when he joined the opposition. He disappeared from public view after prosecutors began investigating him in 2004, and authorities say they believe he has left the country.

Critics accuse Chavez of quashing dissent by pressuring prosecutors to file trumped-up criminal charges against his government's adversaries.

Opposition leader Manuel Rosales, a former mayor of Maracaibo, the country's second biggest city, claims he was forced to seek political asylum in Peru because Chavez is persecuting him with corruption allegations. Peru granted him asylum this week.

Former Defense Minister Raul Baduel _ a staunch Chavez opponent _ is currently in prison awaiting trial on corruption charges.

Chavez denies using the justice system to crack down on dissent.