United Nations urges Venezuela to probe opposition politician's death

Sergio Conner
October 12, 2018

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

Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Alban had been jailed since late last week.

The official claim is drawing a swift denial from Venezuelan opposition leaders close to Alberto Alban Salazar.

Venezuela accuses its neighbour Colombia of shielding the authors of the alleged assassination attempt.

While Venezuelans a year ago watched as dozens of youth were killed in violent street battles with security forces, the death of activists while in the government's custody is a fate more associated with the far deadlier dictatorships that dominated much of South America in the 1970s.

Alban was among at least 15 people arrested and charged for alleged participation in the August 4 drone incident which Maduro has portrayed as an assassination attempt. "The only thing left for this government is torture, violence and destruction".

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

That account differed from the one by Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab, who said in televised statements that Alban had asked to use a bathroom and jumped from there.

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

Reacting to the news, US Senator Bob Corker tweeted that the Venezuelan government should explain how the death had been allowed to happen.

The government denies the detainees are political prisoners and says they were fairly jailed. He then threw himself from the 10th floor of the building, officials said.

The visiting U.S. chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, said on Twitter that the government had a "responsibility to ensure all understand how that could have happened".

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

Fernando Alban, a Caracas city council member accused of taking part in a failed drone attack on President Nicolas Maduro, was in pretrial detention Monday at the time of his death, which the government presented as a suicide.

Opposition leader Julio Borges said Alban was a personal friend and that as a family man and devout Catholic he would never kill himself. 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.

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