[QODLink]
Americas

Venezuela protest leader 'denied jail visits'

Protest leader Leopoldo Lopez, jailed since February, has been denied visitation rights for three weeks, wife says.

Last updated: 02 Jun 2014 22:41
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Protest leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been jailed since February, with his wife Lilian Tintori in 2011 [Reuters]

The wife of Venezuelan protest leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is being held alone in a small cell at a military jail, says her husband had not been allowed visitation rights for three weeks.

Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, 36, told the media she was also denied access to a courthouse on Monday for her husband's first hearing where a decision will be taken to either set Lopez free or start a trial against him.

The courthouses are strongly guarded by members of Venezuela's National Guard.

Lopez was arrested in February as the alleged mastermind of unrest against President Nicolas Maduro's government and has been held at the hilltop Ramo Verde jail outside Caracas.

Tintori, a former TV presenter and sportswoman who has two young children with Lopez, said she hoped justice would be done.

"Today's message is pretty clear. Leopoldo Lopez cannot be imprisoned one more day. Leopoldo Lopez has to be with his family. Wanting a Venezuela in peace, well-being and progress is not a crime," Tintori said.

Spearheaded protests

The hardline opposition leader, a Harvard-educated economist, spearheaded street protests from the start of February that have grown around Venezuela.

At least 41 people have died in the most protracted unrest in Venezuela for a decade, leading Maduro to declare Lopez responsible for the violence.

Nevertheless, Tintori said peaceful protests were constitutional.

"Peaceful protests are constitutional and protesting peacefully is not a crime. That is why Leopoldo Lopez has to walk free," Tintori said.

The government has said Lopez will be treated humanely, but has not given details of his jail conditions.

Maduro supporters were also seen chanting "murderer" outside the courthouse.

Fluent in English and from a wealthy family, Lopez represents a radical opposition wing that believes street action is the only option because creeping authoritarianism makes democratic change of government impossible.

Maduro, and not Lopez, should be taking responsibility for the unrest and discontent across Venezuela, his family has said, citing crime, queues, shortages and inflation.

Lopez's charges have been reduced to lesser counts of instigating arson, damage and criminal gatherings, that could bring a 10-year sentence. His family called the charges "absurd".

355

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.