A Venezuelan politician accused of an attempt to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro using explosive drones will face trial after a court on Monday accepted charges against him, his lawyer said.
Opposition lawmaker Juan Requesens faces 30 years in prison if found guilty of the brazen attempt to kill Maduro as he attended a military parade in downtown Caracas on August 4, 2018.
Two drones packed with explosives flew towards President Maduro, causing panic among soldiers and civilians when they detonated during his speech.
“The accusation against Juan Requesens was accepted in its entirety … and consequently we are going to go to oral and public trial,” lawyer Joel Garcia told AFP after leaving a lengthy hearing.
Imprisoned since August 7, the lawmaker faces two charges of attempted murder and five others for “possession of a firearm, terrorism, treason, conspiracy to commit a crime and public incitement,” Garcia said.
Requesens – who will remain in custody while the trial is heard – plead “not guilty” to the allegations, the lawyer said, adding there had been irregularities and continuous procedural delays.
Maduro’s socialist government says retired soldier Juan Monasterios has confessed to participating in the attack and has broadcast videos of Requesens appearing to admit to helping him enter the country from Colombia.
According to Venezuelan authorities, Requesens and Monasterios were acting at the request of Julio Borges, an exiled deputy who used to be the speaker of the opposition-controlled legislature.
But Borges, now in Bogota, has branded the attack a “farce” and maintains that the “confessions” were made with Requesens under threat, torture or drugs.
There is no mention in the recordings that Requesens was aware that the entry of Monasterios was linked to a plot to assassinate Maduro.
On top of the fraught political situation, Venezuela is grappling with its most-severe economic crisis in recent history, with the country in the grip of power cuts and shortages of basic goods and medicines.
Opposition leaders have charged the government with mismanagement, while Maduro has pointed to increasingly severe U.S. sanctions as the primary cause of the countries economic crisis. A study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research – a left-leaning U.S.-based think tank – estimated those sanctions have caused the deaths of about 40,000 Venezuelans.
According to the United Nations, more than seven million Venezuelans – a quarter of the country’s population – need emergency humanitarian aid.