[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
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
In Brussels, NGO staff are being trained to fill the shortfall of field workers in West Africa.
Lawsuit by 6-year-old girl, locked up for a year, reignites debate over indefinite detention of 'boat people'.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Citizens of the tiny African nation say they're increasingly anxious of the fallout after alleged coup.
A humanitarian crisis and a budget crisis converge in the heart of the human smuggling corridor in Texas.
join our mailing list