Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Venezuela's Maduro says Trump administration wants to have him killed

A mourner of the municipal lawmaker Fernando Alban holds a placard that reads Venezuelan official: Caracas councilman dies in jail
Pablo Mccormick | 12 October, 2018, 06:20

Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Monday that councilman Fernando Alberto Alban Salazar, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a failed assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro, has died of suicide while jailed at SEBIN.

Interior and Justice Minister General Nestor Reverol lamented the death of the politician who, he said, was "involved in destabilizing acts directed from overseas".

Maduro was unharmed but several members of the military sustained injuries.

Members of Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) stand guard as mourners of the municipal lawmaker Fernando Alban gather outside its headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela on October 8, 2018.

The Maduro government has "an obligation to ensure (Alban's) safety, personal integrity and dignity", a spokeswoman for the United Nations human rights office in Geneva, Ravina Shamdasani, told reporters.

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"We become aware a few minutes ago of the suicide of the councilman", Tarek said on state television, referring to the member of the opposition Justice First party.

In brief comments on state TV, he said Alban was in the waiting room of the headquarters of Venezuela's intelligence police waiting to be transferred to a courthouse when he asked to use the bathroom.

The Venezuelan government and the opposition have also disputed the reasons behind Alban's arrest.

"There's no doubt this was an assassination", opposition leader Julio Borges said in a video from exile in neighboring Colombia, without providing evidence of his claim. On Monday, Reverol said Alban had also been investigated for "destabilising activities directed from overseas".

The opposition claims that more than 100 Venezuelans opposed to Maduro are being held as "political prisoners", some for more than four years, with little access to the outside world and their legal rights routinely trampled on.

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"We understand there are conflicting reports on what exactly happened", she said.

Authorities have arrested at least 30 people linked to the drone explosions on August 2, which injured seven soldiers.

"They have tried to assassinate me today, and everything points to the Venezuelan ultra-right and the Colombian ultra-right", Maduro said the same day.

Mr Alban's lawyer, Joel Garcia, told reporters that when he last saw Mr Alban on Sunday, "he was not beaten, he was fine".

The United States in August condemned alleged arbitrary detentions and forced confessions by the Venezuelan government in its investigation of the drone incident. "This criminal dictatorship must go now from Venezuela", OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro wrote on Twitter.

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