Venezuelan court declines to free Opposition leader

Caracas, March 29 (IANS/EFE) The Caracas Court of Appeals rejected the defence attorney’s plea for the release of Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, locked up in a military prison since February last year, Venezuela’s Supreme Court said Friday.

The appellate panel “declared groundless the appeal” filed by attorneys on behalf of Lopez, accused of instigating arson and other acts of violence.

The Court of Appeals maintained the charges against Lopez and ordered that he remain in the Cenapromil detention facility, a prison near Caracas principally used for holding military officers accused of various crimes.

Twice-defeated opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles considered the ruling a “fascist decision” and expressed his solidarity with Lopez in a message sent by Twitter.

Attorney Bernardo Pulido of the Lopez team said that the attorney general’s office has until April 5 to present formal charges against the opposition leader.

Lopez handed himself over to the authorities voluntarily when an arrest warrant was issued against him for allegedly instigating acts of violence February 12, 2013, when a peaceful march ended with attacks on public buildings in downtown Caracas.

President Nicolas Maduro blamed Lopez directly for the acts of violence.

A total of 35 people have died in violence associated with the anti-government protests that began last month.

Fatalities include both opponents and supporters of the government, as well as bystanders and members of the security forces.

Authorities have charged more than a dozen police and soldiers with violating the human rights of demonstrators, while the government likewise accuses radical opposition elements of fomenting violence.

–IANS/EFE

vr

IANS