U.S. sanctions two Venezuelan officials over trial of U.S. oil executives

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Wednesday announced sanctions against a Venezuelan judge and a prosecutor involved in the trial of six executives of U.S. refiner Citgo last month.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that it had designated Lorena Carolina Cornielles Ruiz, a judge in the Venezuelan Supreme Court who presided over the trial, and a prosecutor at the Public Ministry of Venezuela.

In the statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asserted that "the unjust detention and sentencing of these six U.S. persons further demonstrates how corruption and abuse of power are deeply embedded in Venezuela's institutions."

All property and interests of the property of targeted individuals in the United States have been blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from transactions with them, according to the statement.

Venezuela's Supreme Court in late November convicted six U.S. persons of corruption and sentenced them to prison. The six oil executives of U.S.-based refining company Citgo, known as the "CITGO 6," were arrested in Venezuela on charges of corruption on Nov. 21, 2017.

Five of them were sentenced to eight years and 10 months in prison while one of them received a 13-year sentence.

Citgo is owned by Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), and the latter was blacklisted by Washington in early 2019.

The United States has been pursuing a policy of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the Nicolas Maduro government to support opposition leader Juan Guaido. Enditem

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