Thursday, 23 May, 2019

Questions, condemnations of Venezuela dissident’s death

Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro demonstrate in front of the SEBIN intelligence service where the government says opposition councillor Fernando Alban committed suicide Venezuelan official: Caracas councilman dies in jail
Deanna Wagner | 12 October, 2018, 06:22

Fernando Alban was arrested last week for alleged involvement in the explosion of two drones during a military parade that was led by President Nicolas Maduro which injured seven soldiers in August.

According to the opposition party's coordinator Julio Borges, Alban's lifeless body was then thrown from the SEBIN's headquarters, located on Caracas' Plaza Venezuela.

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

Saab said Alban, 56, was in the waiting room of the Caracas office of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service waiting to be transferred to a tribunal when he asked to use the bathroom.

A spokeswoman for the United Nations rights office, Ravina Shamdasani, told reporters the Caracas government had "an obligation to ensure (Alban's) safety, personal integrity and dignity".

The authorities later blamed Venezuela's opposition and also Colombia for the attack.

The opposition First Justice party, for which Alban was a Caracas municipal counselor, said he was murdered.

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".

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The opposition and rights groups have said Maduro's administration is holding hundreds of political prisoners on trumped-up charges meant to stifle dissent.

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

The government has denied that it is detaining people as political prisoners and said they were fairly jailed.

Borges, who said Alban was a personal friend, said the councilman, who represented a district in the Caracas area, was a family man and devout Catholic who would never kill himself.

The Organization of American States (OAS), a group of Western hemisphere countries, has condemned Alban's death.

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

The regime said Alban, who was jailed last Friday, had committed suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of the state intelligence agency headquarters (SEBIN) where he was incarcerated. Garcia said authorities can not determine that a death is a suicide without an investigation and he would ask to be present at the autopsy. "This criminal dictatorship must go now from Venezuela", OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro wrote on Twitter.