- Title: VENEZUELA-OPPOSITION/LOPEZ-REACTION-FILE Venezuelans say Lopez sentence is unjust
- Date: 11th September 2015
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (FILE- FEBRUARY 18, 2014) (REUTERS) LOPEZ IS DETAINED WHILE HOLDING A VENEZUELAN FLAG PEOPLE SHOUTING IN SUPPORT OF LOPEZ LOPEZ TAKEN AWAY BY THE NATIONAL GUARD LOPEZ GETTING INTO AN ARMOURED VEHICLE AND WAVING PEOPLE SHOUTING AROUND THE ARMOURED VEHICLE
- Embargoed: 26th September 2015 13:00
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA6LSQ6HC5ZIB4S12NZM0ARMSLI
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Venezuelans on Friday (September 11) reacted to news that opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez was sentenced to nearly 14 years in jail by the ruling Socialists.
The opposition denounced the sentencing and vowed to redouble their campaign to beat them in December's parliamentary election.
Jailed hardline opposition leader Lopez was convicted late on Thursday (September 10) of inciting 2014 anti-government protests that led to violence killing 43 people. He was found guilty of provoking arson, violence, and damage to public property.
Most people asked were shocked by the sentencing, saying it was too harsh and based on presumptions.
"I don't think he deserve it, because one can't be judged based on what one thinks, if they act on it, then yes but for thinking about it, which is what I think happened to Leopoldo Lopez. He thought about something and due to presumption they are condemning him," said newspaper stand seller, Marcos Arreaza.
Lawyer Walter Vensel said it was typical of the regime.
"The sentence of Leopoldo Lopez is the conviction of an innocent man, but is typical of this unjust system that has prevailed in Venezuela for a long time. The courtrooms in Venezuela do not impose justice; for many years, they have done what the regime tells them to do," said Vensel.
After 18 months of a well-oiled international campaign in Washington and the United Nations to lobby for Lopez's release, his wife, mother, and supporters were shaken by the sentencing.
Nevertheless, some Venezuelans, like pensioner Jose Viera.
"One is not equipped to say: 'Thrown them in jail for so many years,' but it's good for the country that an example has been set if somebody commits something, then they should pay for it. That is why there are lawyers, judges, the people who have the right to decide on these things," Viera said.
Journalists and international observers were not allowed into the heavily guarded Palace of Justice. Judge Susana Barreiros rejected 58 of the 60 defence's witnesses, though she allowed the prosecution 108 witnesses, according to Lopez's lawyers, who will appeal the sentence.
President Nicolas Maduro says Lopez is a dangerous criminal and pawn of the elite, intent on subverting the government under the guise of peaceful protests. He points to Lopez's attempts to unseat the late Hugo Chavez during a failed coup in 2002.
Opposition politicians are seeking to channel such anger into votes in the December 6 election, distancing themselves from the massive protests Lopez pushed for in 2014.
Some opposition moderates see Lopez as a hot-headed egotist who miscalculated when he called for the demonstrations, which led to several politicians' arrests and failed to gain much traction beyond affluent areas.
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