Venezuela protests continue

Fresh violence between protesters and police erupts across Venezuela, including in the capital, Caracas, on the ninth day of unrest.

Venezuela protests continue
World Bulletin / News Desk
 
Security forces and protesters continue to clash in Venezuela as barricades blazed across several cities, including San Cristobal and Valencia.

Witnesses say parts of the cities are like “war zones” and that many businesses remain closed, CNN reports.

At least five people have been killed in the unrest to date and both sides have accused the other of violence and brutality.

Authorities say some 200 people have been detained in the last week alone, but human rights organisations say the figure is actually far higher.

Anti-government protesters also gathered on Thursday near the Ramo Verde military prison, southwest of Caracas, where one of Venezuela's opposition figures, Leopoldo Lopez, is being held.

He has been accused of inciting violence and being responsible for the deaths of protesters at demonstrations he called.

His wife, Lilian Tintori de Lopez, tweeted opposition supporters on Thursday: “Change depends on every one of us. Don't give up!”

Running battles with police have been reported in the Caracas opposition stronghold of Chacao district.

The district's mayor and opposition member Ramon Muchacho, told reporters that he had witnessed 15 people injured in one of the district's hospitals, including “a young person losing an eye [and] nine people injured by rubber bullets”, reports BBC Mundo.

Leopoldo Lopez, who is leader of the centrist Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) political party, was remanded in custody after Wednesday's hearing pending further proceedings.

The opposition figure had faced a string of charges, including murder, terrorism and arson, after he called on Venezuelans to join him in rallies against the government.

However, on Thursday, attorney Juan Carlos Gutierrez said prosecutors had dropped the most serious charges – of murder and terrorism – but he could still face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of arson and conspiracy charges.

It is unclear when the next hearing will take place.

The deaths of three people at a rally on 12 February led to the charges against the Popular Will leader, which he has denied and labelled as politically-motivated.

Lopez handed him to police on Wednesday at an opposition rally that he called in Caracas.

Last Mod: 22 Şubat 2014, 09:53
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