CARACAS – Agence France-Presse
Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Feb. 16 upheld opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez’s nearly 14-year prison sentence, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump called for his release.
The founder of Popular Will, one of the most hardline of the parties opposing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Lopez was sentenced on charges of inciting unrest at anti-government protests that left 43 people dead in 2014.
“The appeal was declared inadmissible. It is a reality and an act of absolute injustice,” defense lawyer Juan Carlos Gutierrez told AFP, adding that the case is closed in Venezuela and can be appealed only to international bodies.
The ruling on the appeal, which was filed in July last year, came a day after Trump received Lopez’s wife Lilian Tintori at the White House.
Upon landing in Caracas from Washington, Tintori told reporters that the court decision against her husband is “null.”
“Under dictatorship, every sentence is null,” she said.
“Trump is with the people of Venezuela,” she said. Tintori buffeted claims her meeting with Trump constituted interference into Venezuelan affairs, which the country’s minister of foreign affairs has suggested.
“Venezuela should allow Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner & husband of @liliantintori (just met w/ @marcorubio) out of prison immediately,” Trump tweeted following the meeting.
The government called Tintori’s meeting with Trump an “intrusion and aggression.”
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez blamed Venezuelan opposition “lobbies” within “the Miami mafia.”
“While President Maduro proposed starting a new era of respectful relations, Donald Trump is in solidarity with the leader of violent actions,” he said.
Lopez was the most prominent of a hundred prisoners arrested for the 2014 protests.