Protests erupt in Venezuela over jailed lawmaker's death

Published: October 09, 2018 11:16:23 | Updated: October 11, 2018 13:03:23

Mourners of the municipal lawmaker Fernando Alban react outside the headquarters of Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) in Caracas, Venezuela October 8, 2018 - Reuters

Protesters in Venezuela have accused the government of murdering a jailed opposition lawmaker, who the authorities say killed himself.

Crowds were calling for justice at a rally outside the Sebin intelligence agency headquarters in Caracas where Fernando Albán had been held.

The authorities say he took his own life by jumping from the 10th floor.

He had been held over what officials say was a drone assassination attempt on President Nicolás Maduro in August.

That attack happened when Maduro was speaking at a military event in the capital. Seven soldiers were injured, officials say.

The authorities later blamed Venezuela's opposition and also Colombia for the attack. Both denied the claim, reports the BBC.

How did Fernando Albán die?

Attorney General Tareq Saad told Venezuela's VTV state television that the lawmaker "requested to go to the bathroom, and when there he threw himself off the 10th floor".

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nestor Luis Reverol gave a somewhat different account of what happened on Monday.

He tweeted (in Spanish): "At the moment he was going to be transported to court, while he was in the Sebin waiting room, he jumped from the window of the building and fell, causing his death."

The minister also said the lawmaker had been investigated for "destabilising activities directed from abroad".

Albán was a Caracas municipal counsellor for the opposition First Justice party.

In a statement, the party said their member "was murdered at the hands of the regime of Nicolas Maduro".

Reacting to the news, US Senator Bob Corker tweeted: "Today in Venezuela, Fernando Albán, a young opposition leader, died while in the government's custody. This is disturbing and the government has a responsibility to ensure all understand how that could have happened."

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