Venezuela opposition leader sentenced to 8 years in prison: lawyer

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Juan Requesens, deputy of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD), clashes with Venezuela's National Guards during a protest outside the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) in Caracas

By Vivian Sequera

CARACAS (Reuters) -Former Venezuela opposition lawmaker Juan Requesens was sentenced to eight years in prison for alleged involvement in the 2018 explosion of two drones at an event attended by President Nicolas Maduro, his lawyer said on Thursday, one of 17 people to receive sentences over the incident.

Requesens' family and opposition leader Juan Guaido consider him a political prisoner and have denied his involvement in the case.

Requesens was detained for about two years between 2018 and 2020 in the case, which stems from explosions that rocked a military event where Maduro was giving a speech. Maduro has said Requesens was named by people arrested in the case.

The government says the incident was a failed assassination attempt planned by Colombia, the United States and the Venezuelan opposition involving drones carrying explosives. Colombia, the United States and the opposition have denied any involvement in this and other plots alleged by the Venezuelan government.

"Leaving the hearing in the judgment of Juan Requesens who was sentenced to 8 years for the crime of conspiracy," his lawyer, Joel Garcia, tweeted on Thursday morning, without giving further details.

Seventeen people were convicted on Thursday morning, attorney general Tarek Saab said in a statement on state television, without naming them.

Twelve of the 17 people were sentenced to 30 years for crimes such as murder and treason, Saab said. Five of the accused were sentenced to terms of 24, 20, 16, eight and five years, respectively, for terrorism and conspiracy.

Opposition leader Guaido condemned the sentencing of Requesens on Twitter.

"The dictatorship kidnapped him and keeps him deprived of his liberty as a persecution mechanism against a whole society," Guaido said.

The family of National Guard general Hector Hernandez Da Costa, who was arrested in 2018, said he was sentenced to 16 years in the same case. He is innocent, the family added.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera. Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb. Edited by Michael Williams.)

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