Venezuelan military court jails 22 students, NGO says
The Venezuelan Penal Forum (FPV), a defender of human rights group, reported Tuesday that 22 of the 27 students from the Libertador Experimental Teaching University (UPEL), arrested in Aragua state and tried by a military court, will be sent to two prisons in other states of the country.
The criminal attorney and representative of the Penal Forum in that jurisdiction, Dimas Rivas, said on Twitter that the 27 students were charged with the crimes of incitement to rebellion, theft of armed forces' materiel, destruction of fortifications and trespassing in a security zone.
According to Rivas, the military judge ordered house arrest for the five women among the 27 students. Of the 22 males, half will be were sent to El Dorado Prison in Bolivar state, and the others to the July 26 Detention Center for the Accused in Guarico state.
The attorney said the hearing lasted 10 hours and the decision was reached "amid threats and intimidation directed at both defendants and lawyers."
Opposition lawmaker Jose Ramon Arias said Monday that the detainees "had fought for the freedom of Venezuela" during the more than 90 days of protests against the Nicolas Maduro government that the Caribbean country has been going through, and which has left 85 people dead and close to 1,500 injured.
The UPEL denounced in a statement that "officials of the Aragua state security corps raided" the university campus and "beat and apprehended a group" of students.
In another statement, the UPEL said that not only students were beaten up but also university guards, and stated its "sound repudiation of the attacks."
The center of higher education has suspended classes following the raid this Sunday, a measure that should have been taken a month and a half ago when five of its students were shot by the militarized National Guard (GNE) and one of them died several days later.