HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — The mayor of the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal, Daniel Ceballos, was dismissed from his post and sentenced to a year in prison on charges of disobeying a direct order to contain anti-government protests, Venezuela’s Voluntad Popular party reported on Tuesday.
Ceballos was detained last week and interned at the Ramo Verde military prison in the neighboring city of Los Teques. On Tuesday, he was tried and sentenced by Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ).
On Monday night, President Nicolas Maduro accused Ceballos’ party, Voluntad Popular, of having set fire to the Experimental University of the Armed Forces (UNEFA) in the state of Tachira.
“The university was set a blaze under Ceballos’ orders. The SCJ protects democracy in Venezuela and around the continent,” Maduro declared.
Voluntad Popular, led by Leopoldo Lopez (currently imprisoned), declared that Ceballos was accused of disobeying instructions issued by the SCJ, which had ruled to dismantle the barricades set up during government protests – protests that have resulted in 35 deaths and hundreds of injuries over the past six weeks.
Ceballos’ lawyer, Ana Acosta, said that the trial “was an affront to the legitimate rights of the defense.”
“Today, the SCJ trampled on all of Ceballos’ rights: his right to a defense and to due process. He has been convicted of disobeying orders in a summary trial, in disregard of the people’s will expressed in December of 2013 (during elections where he received 67% of the vote) and the autonomy of the country’s municipalities,” she said.
Lopez and Ceballos are the two members of Voluntad Popular currently imprisoned. There are arrest warrants for party leaders Carlos Vecchio and retired general Antonio Rivero, accused of instigating and organizing anti-government protests.