United Nations calls for probe into death of jailed Venezuelan lawmaker

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Venezuela faced calls internationally Tuesday for a "transparent investigation" into the death in custody of an opposition member who the government said threw himself from a 10th floor window of the headquarters of the state intelligence services.

The Venezuelan government and the opposition have also disputed the reasons behind Alban's arrest.

In a statement, the party said their member "was murdered at the hands of the regime of Nicolas Maduro".

The party said that Alban's arrest was owing to statements he made at recent United Nations meetings in New York City denouncing humans rights violations in Venezuela. But opposition leaders denied the official version.

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.

In brief comments on state TV he said Alban was in the waiting room of the Caracas headquarters of Venezuela's intelligence police waiting to be transferred to a courthouse when he asked to use the bathroom.

As worldwide criticism of Maduro's government grew, Alban's family, fellow politicians and family members of other jailed activists paid a final tribute to him Tuesday in a ceremony at the opposition-controlled Congress.


As night fell on Caracas, and rumors swelled on social media that the government was planning to cremate the body to hide any signs of torture, family members gathered outside the morgue to demand Alban's body be handed over.

Venezuela accuses its neighbor Colombia of shielding the authors of the alleged assassination attempt. "The only thing left for this government is torture, violence and destruction". "This criminal dictatorship must go now from Venezuela", OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro wrote on Twitter.

The opposition and rights groups have said Maduro's administration is holding hundreds of political prisoners on trumped-up charges meant to stifle dissent.

"The EU reiterates its call to the Venezuelan government to release all political prisoners", added EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic.

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.

Shamdasani said the Venezuelan state was responsible for ensuring Alban's safety while he was in custody. He then threw himself from the 10th floor of the building, officials said.

The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker, called on Maduro to explain the reasons for Alban's death. He did not provide any evidence and did not say what led him to believe that Alban was killed.

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