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Venezuela says jailed lawmaker took his own life

12 October 2018

The official suicide claim drew swift denial from opposition leaders close to Fernando Alban, and a few dozen of his supporters gathered outside the headquarters of Venezuela's intelligence service yelling "Maduro killer!" contending that he had been murdered.

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.

Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Monday that councilman Fernando Alberto Alban Salazar, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a failed assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro, has died of suicide while jailed at SEBIN.

Ravina Shamdasani with the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva said the U.N.'s Human Rights Council has mandated the human rights arm to do a report on Venezuela, but was unclear if the councilman's death would be covered in that report.

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

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

The government has denied that it is detaining people as political prisoners and said they were fairly jailed.

Venezuela's president survived an attack on his life during a military parade celebrating the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard in the capital of Caracas on August 4.

Maduro said the blasts were from explosives-laden drones sent to assassinate him, though opposition figures accuse Maduro of fabricating the incident to step up repression in his country, which is suffering an economic crisis.

Borges said on Twitter the "cruelty of the dictatorship ended the life of Alban".

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Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, also a First Justice member, said the Maduro government was responsible.

"At the moment he was going to be transported to court, while he was in the SEBIN waiting room, he jumped from the window of the building and fell, causing his death", Reverol wrote in a post on Twitter.

The city councilman's lawyer, Joel Garcia, told reporters it was too soon to confirm whether the case was a suicide.

"There's no doubt this was an assassination", opposition leader Julio Borges said in a video from exile in neighboring Colombia, without providing evidence of his claim.

The Organization of American States (OAS) condemned Alban's death.

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Venezuela says jailed lawmaker took his own life