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Suspect in Maduro assassination plot dies in mysterious fall from window

One of the suspects accused of trying to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro using drones armed ...

Posted: Oct 10, 2018 12:22 PM
Updated: Oct 10, 2018 12:22 PM

One of the suspects accused of trying to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro using drones armed with explosives died under mysterious circumstances Monday.

Venezuelan government officials say Fernando Albán, a 56-year-old city councilor in the capital of Caracas and Maduro critic, died by suicide after jumping out a tenth floor window of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, the country's top intelligence agency.

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But Maduro critics have accused the regime of murdering Albán as part of a massive crackdown on opposition groups and human rights activists.

Albán was arrested on Friday for his alleged involvement in the apparent assassination attempt on August 4, when armed drones flew toward Maduro during a speech at a military parade. Two loud explosions were heard and while Maduro escaped the attack unharmed, seven members of Venezuela's national guard were injured.

It's unclear exactly what happened to Albán in the time between his arrest and death.

Venezuela's interior minister, Nestor Luis Reverol tweeted Monday that as Albán was being transferred to court, he threw himself out of a window. That account seemed to differ from that of Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab, who said in an interview with state broadcaster VTV that Albán flung himself from the window after asking permission to go to the bathroom.

Albán's lawyer, Joel Garcia told CNN that Saab's account is "totally false," as it would have been impossible for his client to go unaccompanied to the bathroom and jump out the window given the high level of security and surveillance inside the building.

Officials outside Venezuela have also cried foul.

Luis Almagro, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, said on Twitter that Albán's death was the direct result of a "torturing and homicidal regime."

Opposition and human rights groups have accused Maduro's administration of holding hundreds of political prisoners on phony charges in an attempt to stifle dissent. The United Nations has said detainees are often subjected to ill treatment, and in some cases torture.

The Venezuelan government consistently denies that it is detaining people as political prisoners and claims those who are being held have been fairly jailed.

US Senator Bob Corker called Albán's death "disturbing" and said the government of Venezuela "has a responsibility to ensure all understand how that could have happened."

Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations, is in Venezuela on a fact-finding mission, meeting with US officials, Venezuelan lawmakers and opposition leaders. He met with Maduro in Caracas earlier this year.

Albán is one of several people Venezuelan authorities have arrested in connection with the attack.

Maduro claims far-right agitators and former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos were behind the assassination attempt. He later claimed to have proof linking Colombia to the attack, but has yet to reveal it.

Colombia has denied the allegations.

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