Caracas cops shoot 8 after court rules for coup-makerrs

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Aug 13 16:00:05 MDT 2002


Court Rejects Bid to Try 4 in Anti-Chavez Coup;
9 Hurt in Clashes
>From Reuters

August 9 2002

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Nine people were shot and wounded in
violent disturbances in Venezuela on Thursday after the
Supreme Court rejected a proposal to put on trial four
military officers accused in April's uprising against
President Hugo Chavez.

After police clashed with supporters of the populist leader
clamoring against the ruling, at least eight civilians were
wounded by gunfire and a police officer was shot in the leg,
authorities said.

"They have taken eight people wounded by gunfire to Lidice
Hospital," police commissioner Leobaldo Navas told local
radio. Navas said police defended themselves after coming
under gunfire. Eyewitnesses interviewed by local media said
at least seven civilians were wounded, two seriously, when
police opened fire on demonstrators.

With National Guard troops ringing the building, Supreme
Court magistrates earlier voted for a second time against a
trial on rebellion charges in a case that last week
triggered three days of street clashes.

"They have rejected the proposal ... and once again defeated
the attorney general, who has tried by all means to prove a
crime of rebellion that doesn't exist," Rene Buroz, an
attorney for the accused officers, told reporters.

The four high-ranking officers and others accused in the
April 11-14 coup remain under investigation and still face
possible trial on other charges. One of the Supreme Court
magistrates who rejected the rebellion trial proposal will
make another ruling on the case within a few days, Buroz
said.

Atty. Gen. Isaias Rodriguez, a close ally of Chavez, wanted
to put the officers on trial, alleging that they had
committed military rebellion by taking part in the
short-lived coup.

In central Caracas, thick black smoke from burning tires
rose from streets near the court building as pro-Chavez
groups protested against the ruling.

Last week's violence was among the worst since loyal troops
returned Chavez to office. Police fired tear gas and riot
pellets to control pro-Chavez demonstrators after the
Supreme Court postponed the ruling until this week.



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