Opposition councilman who died in Venezuelan state custody buried

    10 de octubre de 2018

    Caracas, Oct 10 (efe-epa).- Councilman Fernando Alban was buried Wednesday in a cemetery in eastern Caracas, two days after Venezuelan prosecutors reported that he had committed suicide by jumping off the 10th floor of the police station where he was being held, a version of events rejected by the opposition, who claims he was murdered.

    Hundreds of people attended the funeral services on Wednesday at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) and later accompanied the casket in a funeral procession and caravan that wended its way through several Caracas neighborhoods until it arrived at the cemetery.

    Relatives of Alban, along with friends, supporters, lawmakers, colleagues and fellow members of the Primero Justicia (PJ) party, arrived at the gravesite for the burial, throwing flowers, caps and flags onto the casket - which was always kept closed.

    Several of those present, including the parents of the deceased, wept openly and the crowd sang the Venezuelan national anthem to bid farewell to Alban.

    "Thanks to all those who were with us on such a sad day. Fernando's departure is a loss for all Venezuela..." read a message posted on Alban's Twitter account, which is being managed by his relatives.

    Opposition leaders question the government's claim that Alban committed suicide and say that this was "faked" to "hide signs of torture" that, they say, resulted in the politician's death.

    The United Nations, the European Union, the Catholic Church, political parties, human rights organizations and several governments have asked the Nicolas Maduro government for an independent investigation to clarify the matter and determine responsibility for Alban's death.

    Alban was arrested Friday at Maiquetia International Airport outside Caracas, after returning from the United States, as a suspect in the failed assassination attempt targeting President Nicolas Maduro last Aug. 4.

    According to a statement by Attorney General Tarek Saab, the councilman committed suicide by throwing himself off the 10th floor a police station when he was about to be taken to court.

    However, the councilman's PJ party, to which two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles belongs, said the politician was "murdered by the Nicolas Maduro regime" and demanded to know "the truth" about what occurred.