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Venezuela court grants freedom for judge who angered Chavez; charges against her remain

Venezuelan authorities have granted conditional freedom to a judge who has been detained since 2009 and whose cause has been taken up by opposition leaders and international human rights groups.

A lawyer for 50-year-old Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni says a Caracas court issued the ruling due to health problems she suffers.

However Friday's decision leaves in place the charges against her of corruption, abuse of authority and aiding an inmate's escape.

Afiuni angered then-President Hugo Chavez in 2009 when she ruled that a banker accused of violating currency exchange controls could go free while awaiting trial.

Opposition leaders consider her the country's highest-profile political prisoner. She was allowed to leave jail in 2011 and had been under house arrest since then.

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