Alleged Maduro 'attack' plotter kills self: Venezuela

A mourner of the municipal lawmaker Fernando Alban holds a placard that reads

Fernando Alban was arrested Friday at Caracas' global airport upon arrival from a trip to NY to galvanize world opinion against President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government.

Opposition First Justice party, to which Alban belonged, said that his arrest was due to statements he made at recent United Nations meetings in NY denouncing humans rights violations in Venezuela.

United Nations human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva news briefing her office was concerned by the news of Alban's death and because he had not been taken before a judge within 48 hours of his arrest as required under Venezuelan law. He said Mr Alban told him that he had been interrogated, but not tortured. "They have tried to assassinate me today, and everything points to the Venezuelan ultra-right and the Colombian ultra-right", Maduro said the same day.

People stand next to the coffin of the opposition lawmaker Fernando Alban during a ceremony at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela October 9, 2018.

Opponents of socialist Maduro say that Alban, a devout catholic and family man, could not have killed himself and accused authorities of covering up a murder.

"There's no doubt this was an assassination", Borges said in a video from exile in neighbouring Colombia.

While Venezuelans previous year saw dozens of youths killed in violent street battles with security forces, the death of activists or government opponents while in state custody is a fate more associated with the far deadlier, right-wing dictatorships that dominated much of South America in the 1970s. "The only thing left for this government is torture, violence and destruction".

The French foreign ministry on Thursday reissued an appeal for the liberation of all political prisoners in Venezuela and respect for basic rights.

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Municipal lawmaker Fernando Alban, 56, was jailed last Friday for alleged involvement in the explosion of two drones during a military parade in August that was led by President Nicolas Maduro, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said.

More than two dozen people have been jailed on suspicion of involvement in the alleged plot, which Maduro claims was orchestrated by Borges with the support of Colombia and the U.S.

Reverol's account, however, differed from that offered by Venezuela's Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab, who said in a televised interview that Alban had asked to use a bathroom and subsequently jumped from the window.

"Alban is a very Christian person, with deep spiritual convictions that go contrary to a decision to take one's life", said lawyer Joel Garcia, who has represented Alban.

The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker, called on Maduro to explain the reasons for Alban's death.

"This is disturbing and the government has a responsibility to ensure all understand how that could have happened", Corker, a Republican, said on Twitter.

He said he met with Alban the night before in the tribunal and his client had seemed calm.

Venezuelan lawmaker Fernando Alban has died while in detention, the government said Monday, although the reasons for his death remain contested.

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