Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Venezuela says jailed lawmaker takes own life; opposition says he was killed

Venezuela says jailed lawmaker takes own life; opposition says he was killed

Fernando Albán was detained over what officials say was a drone assassination attempt on President Nicolás Maduro.

The country's chief prosecutor said that Alban killed himself Monday by leaping from the 10th floor of the state police agency's headquarters, where he was being held for alleged involvement in an worldwide plot to kill Maduro using explosive-laden drones.

"We are concerned about news of his death, and also concerned about the fact that he wasn't presented to a judge within 48 hours which is the requirement under Venezuelan law", United Nations human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva news briefing.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is in Venezuela for meetings with Maduro and his opponents, called Alban's death while in the government's custody "disturbing".

"We do indeed call for a transparent, independent investigation to clarify the circumstances of his death".

The Venezuelan opposition, the Justice First party, of which Alban was a member, insisted that the councilman was killed and that the regime of President Nicolas Maduro was responsible.

But his supporters say he was murdered - a theory echoed by the United States, a fierce critic of Maduro's regime.

More than two dozen people have been jailed on suspicion of involvement in the plot, which Maduro claims was orchestrated by Borges with the support of Colombia and the U.S.

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The government has denied that it is detaining people as political prisoners and has said that they were fairly jailed. Maduro was seen reacting on live television to an off-camera explosion while he addressed a military parade in Caracas.

A second explosion was heard and then the assembled troops were seen breaking formation and scattering in panic.

Borges said on Twitter the "cruelty of the dictatorship ended the life of Alban".

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

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

"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", Reverol wrote. Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Monday that Salazar, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a failed assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro, has died of suicide.

The Organization of American States (OAS) condemned Alban's death.

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