Venezuelan top court upholds sentence for opp. leader
Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Friday upheld a nearly 14-year prison sentence against political opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez for inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014.
"The ratification of the judgment against Leopoldo Lopez is an exercise of what should never happen in a democratic country,” Lopez’s attorney Juan Carlos Gutierrez told Anadolu Agency. "It is an exercise of absence of law and absence of autonomy of the Venezuelan justice system.”
Gutierrez said there is still a last hope with the court to get his client released but the legal team is already resorting to international organizations.
"In parallel we have a whole line of action to appeal to the United Nations where we will present all evidence that there have been systematic violations of fundamental rights”, he added.
Gutierrez also appealed to the international community to denounce political policies in the South American nation and to demand the release of political prisoners. "It is up to the international community to condemn these anti-democratic practices and restore the rule of law in Venezuela and release political prisoners, especially Leopoldo Lopez”, he said.
Lopez was sentenced last September for inciting violence at demonstrations against the administration of President Nicolas Maduro but defense lawyers appealed the Voluntad Popular (VP) party founder’s sentence three weeks ago in a hearing that lasted about 15 hours.
Lopez was sentenced on charges of public incitement, conspiracy and damage to property in violence that caused 48 deaths and injuries to more than 800 other victims.
The charges stemmed from a speech Lopez delivered that helped spark months of nationwide protests.
At the July 23 appeal hearing, Lopez refused to back down and asserted his innocence. "I assume my full responsibility for having denounced the Venezuelan government as corrupt, poor, anti-democratic and repressive”, he said.
Lopez has been held at the military prison of Ramo Verde since Feb. 18, 2014, when he surrendered to the National Guard.
Last Modified: 2016-08-13 07:00:41
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