Photo: retrieved

In another ghastly development, Libertador Municipal Council member and Primero Justicia militant Fernando Albán died under SEBIN custody. According to the government, Albán took his own life after jumping from a tenth floor. As usual, there are conflicting official versions: While OFAC-sanctioned Interior Minister Nestor Reverol claimed on Twitter that Albán commited suicide by jumping off a window in a waiting room of the building, illegally-appointed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab said he jumped from a bathroom in the tenth floor. The dictatorship can’t even keep its own story straight.

Albán had been illegally detained at Maiquetia airport on Friday, charged with participating in the alleged assassination attempt against Nicolás Maduro in August. He became another political prisoner in Venezuela, another citizen whose fundamental right to due process was violated.

He became another political prisoner in Venezuela, another citizen whose fundamental right to due process was violated.

Primero Justicia and Albán’s lawyer (who, as it’s customary in Venezuela had not been able to see him since his arrest) denied the suicide narrative and accused the government of murdering him. Other opposition parties such as Voluntad Popular and Vente immediately rejected the government’s version as well.

Under either scenario—suicide or murder—Albán’s death is a severe breach of the State’s obligation under the Venezuelan Constitution and the American Convention on Human Rights. THIS DEATH IS ON THE GOVERNMENT.

At this moment there’s just too many versions going around, and little clarity. Julio Borges said that Albán’s lifeless body was thrown from the tenth floor. And there are several claims that SEBIN has been dangling people from that window as a method to extract confessions.

At this moment there’s just too many versions going around, and little clarity.

We may never know for sure what really happened to Albán, but this is a horrifying reminder of how chavismo has been growing more violent and ruthless. A reminder that Venezuela is ruled by a dictatorship that quashes dissenting voices by any means necessary: exile, prison, torture… death.  

We can only hope that Albán’s family gets the justice they deserve, and for the return of the rule of law to Venezuela.

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