CARACAS, Venezuela - After traveling to New York to talk about the crisis in Venezuela, a Caracas city council member was arrested at Caracas' international airport. About three days later, he was being held in pre-trial detention when he fell to his death from the headquarters of Venezuela’s intelligence police building.
Venezuelan officials accused Fernando Alban, a critic of President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government, of participating in a plot to kill Maduro, and said that to escape justice he asked to use the bathroom and jumped from a 10th-floor window.
Alban’s family, friends and colleagues don't buy it. They believe he was tortured and thrown off the building. They say he could have chosen to stay in the United States if that was the case, and he was a devout Catholic who would never choose suicide.
Venezuela’s Catholic bishops' conference blamed Alban’s death on a regime that tortures and kills opponents. Alban's funeral procession was on Wednesday. The international community demanded an independent investigation.
"The United States condemns the Maduro regime's involvement in the death of Venezuelan opposition councilman Fernando Alban," the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.
Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab, one of Maduro's most powerful allies, said the autopsy report indicated he died from blunt force trauma linked to the fall.
Ravina Shamdasani of the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Venezuelan officials were responsible for Alban's safety. The United Nations will be investigating Alban's death as part of their probe on human rights abuses.
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