CARACAS – A court has issued an arrest order for Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez for his alleged role in deadly violence that erupted after a march in Caracas, the daily El Universal reported Thursday.
At the request of the Attorney General’s Office, a Caracas judge on Wednesday night ordered the Sebin intelligence agency to apprehend Lopez and search his residence, the paper reported, citing judicial sources.
Lopez was ordered arrested on raft of charges that include criminal conspiracy, homicide and terrorism, the daily said.
But a source with the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party, which Lopez leads, told Efe that it had not been formally notified of the warrant and said Lopez was meeting with his attorneys and “evaluating his situation.”
At least three people died on Wednesday after protests in Caracas and several other Venezuelan cities to demand the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro, who said a far-right element of the opposition was seeking to overthrow the government through violence.
Maduro’s opponents, for their part, accused the president of suspending constitutional guarantees.
An initially peaceful march through downtown Caracas to protest the country’s economic woes, Maduro’s left-wing policies and arrests of students during altercations this week in western Venezuela deteriorated into violent clashes that left two dead.
A third person died Wednesday afternoon in Chacao, a Caracas suburb, in incidents attributed by Mayor Ramon Muchacho to “irregular groups.”
Twenty-three people were injured and at least 25 were arrested nationwide in incidents arising from the rallies.
Maduro on Wednesday repudiated the violence and vowed his government would defeat a “Nazi-fascist”-led movement that was seeking to topple him in a coup.
The president also announced a ban on street demonstrations, a move slammed by Lopez and two other opposition leaders, Maria Corina Machado and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who accused Maduro of denying basic constitutional rights and called for more marches.