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After more than five months in captivity, Leopoldo Lopez’s trial began today. Lopez was arrested in February for allegedly orchestrating the violent acts that took place in Caracas during the February 12 protests.

Speaking on the eve of the trial, Juan Carlos Gutierrez – one of Lopez’s lawyers – said:

We are ready for this fight…. we are relying on something very important, and that is the objective truth, the truth [of his innocence], a [criminal] code and a constitution that protects us legally. In the face of all of this, the rule of law should prevail, and as a consequence, bring about Leopoldo Lopez’s freedom and absolution due to the simple reason that he has not committed a crime.

Witnesses reported seeing a heavy military presence outside the Palacio de Justicia [Palace of Justice] in Caracas, where Lopez’s trial is being held.

Opposition figure Maria Corina Machado and mayor of El Hatillo David Smolansky were on site to show their support for Lopez, but were denied access to the court by the National Guard:

Lilian Tintori, Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, unceremoniously announced the beginning of the trial through a tweet sent from Lopez’s account:

At this moment the trial of Leopoldo, Marco, Christian, Angel and Demian is beginning. I will let you know what is happening through here. LT

Parents of Detained Students Stage Protest

The parents of students detained during the protests staged a peaceful protest in Caracas today to raise awareness of the situation their children find themselves in. Yesterday, the preliminary hearing of eight students was postponed indefinitely when the SEBIN – Venezuela’s intelligence service – refused to obey a judicial order to transport the students to the courthouse.

The parents released a press release, saying:

To the people of Venezuela – the international community – the United Nations:

Our sons and Venezuelan students are prisoners in dark places behind rusty bars, deprived of their freedom for fighting against hunger, misery, and unemployment. If you could see how much suffering there is inside a Venezuelan prison, within four falls where there is no compassion and where affection and goodness do not exist, but where our children’s principles, values and democratic convictions are strengthened.
After 75 days of unjustified detainment, from May 8 2014, after the repressive MADRUGONAZO [colloquial term for the night raid that resulted in the arrests] to violently remove the camp of the Venezuelan youth found outside the PNUD-ONU [the UN building] in Caracas, Venezuela, [which was] a peaceful protest that took place over 45 days (…) we want to let it be known that: we, the parents of these youths, who are political prisoners armed by faith and bravery, will continue to hold peaceful protests outside the headquarters of the United Nations in Caracas, Venezuela, until the following demands are met:

1) The the United Nations make a statement regarding the peaceful nature of the protest that took place outside its building in Caracas over the course of 45 days.
2) We ask that the United Nations make a statement rejecting the violation of the human rights of everyone detained during peaceful protests and in the protest camps.
3) We ask the national government to give our children unconditional freedom, because it is widely known that they are innocent and that their struggle for a better country was peaceful.

La Patilla has pictures of the parent’s protest here.

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