A Venezuelan judge is in jail on charges of corruption and abuse of power for freeing a high-profile banker, and an angry President Hugo Chavez has demanded she be kept in a cell for the maximum sentence — 30 years.

The president’s condemnation of the judge as a “criminal” has drawn rebukes from his political opponents and also from some legal experts, who say the case is one more indication of the influence Chavez now wields over the judiciary.