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Up to 30 years in prison for ex-MPs, 16 more for allegedly beating Maduro

#years #prison #exMPs #allegedly #beating #Maduro

Up to 30 years in prison for ex-MPs, 16 more for allegedly beating Maduro

Caracas (AFP) –

Javier TOVAR, Margioni BERMUDEZ

A Venezuelan court on Tuesday sentenced a former opposition MP and 16 others to up to 30 years in prison for an alleged drone attack on President Nicolas Maduro in 2018.

Former lawmaker Juan Requesens was sentenced to eight years in prison “for the crime of conspiracy,” his attorney Joel Garcia said on Twitter after Tuesday’s hearing.

Prison terms for the other 16 ranged from five to 30 years on charges of terrorism, criminal association, murder, treason and setting off explosives in public.

Twelve of the defendants received the maximum sentence.

The conviction came exactly four years after two drones laden with explosives flew at Maduro as he was speaking at a military parade in Caracas, exploding and injuring seven soldiers.

The President claimed an “assassination attempt” was attempted and 30 people, including serving generals and requesens, were subsequently arrested.

Caracas accused the government of then-Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos of being behind the attack, with US and Peru backing.

The verdicts “aim to reinforce the false narrative of an alleged assassination attempt by those in power,” Foro Penal lawyer Gonzalo Himiob, which works on behalf of “political prisoners,” told AFP.

“They are scapegoats,” he added.

– ‘Tyrants and Tyranny’ –

A few days after Requesen, who is now 33, was arrested, authorities released a video in which he admitted to having had contact with an alleged conspirator.

Political opposition claimed he had been threatened or drugged, and Garcia insisted there was no evidence against his client.

Requesens was transferred from prison to house arrest in 2020 while awaiting trial. It was unclear where he would serve his sentence.

His father, also Juan Requesens, took to Twitter after Tuesday’s sentencing to express his “eternal rejection of bullying and tyranny.”

And opposition leader Juan Guaido, who was recognized by the US and others as interim president of Venezuela after Maduro’s controversial re-election in 2018, said: “The dictatorship kidnapped him (Requesens) and held him captive to persecute all who resist.”

Army General Hector Hernandez Da Costa, 56, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Emirlendris Benitez and Yolmer Escalona received the maximum sentence of 30 years, although lawyers claimed the couple responded to a taxi call when they were arrested.

According to the Foro Penal, as of August 1, there were 245 “political prisoners” in Venezuela.

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#years #prison #exMPs #allegedly #beating #Maduro

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