A Venezuelan city councilor accused of trying to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has died after falling out of a window, CNN reported. The Venezuelan government has claimed that the death was a suicide, but supporters of the dead man suspect foul play and are demanding an investigation.
What assassination attempt?
In August, a loud popping noise interrupted a speech Maduro was giving at a military celebration in the capital city of Caracas. Maduro's wife looked at the sky with a panicked expression on her face, and a crowd shot showed the military scrambling in several directions.
Maduro would later say that the disturbance was from a drone that had been used in an attempt to assassinate him.
“Today they attempted to assassinate me,” Maduro said in a televised address following the incident, “I stand, alive and victorious, ready to follow the battles and fights that touch me forever.”
However, the fire department in Caracas reported the incident as an explosion in a nearby apartment that had been caused by a gas leak.
Maduro blamed the attack on “far-right” factions and on then-Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Santos dismissed these claims as ridiculous. Maduro has claimed that he has proof to back up his assertions, but has yet to reveal this evidence.
What happened now?
After the incident in August, Maduro had rounded up six suspects, including a 56-year-old city councilor and known Maduro critic named Fernando Albán. On Monday, Albán fell out of a 10th-floor window of a building belonging to Venezuela's Bolivarian Intelligence Agency.
The Venezuelen government declared that he had committed suicide, but supporters of Albán are skeptical. Some of Albán's supporters protested outside the building, shouting that Maduro was a killer.
Venezuelan government officials have released conflicting accounts of what happened. The country's interior minister tweeted that Albán had thrown himself out a window while he was being transferred to court. Venezuela's attorney general, however, said that Albán had asked permission to use the bathroom, and then thrown himself out of the window.
Albán's lawyer told CNN that with the security measures in the building, both scenarios would have been impossible.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called Albán's death “disturbing” in a tweet, adding that “the government has a responsibility to ensure all understand how that could have happened.” Corker is currently in Venezuela on a fact-finding mission.
Today in Venezuela, Fernando Albán, a young opposition leader, died while in the government’s custody. This is dist… https://t.co/gYFuscI59k— Senator Bob Corker (@Senator Bob Corker) 1539043220.0
What did the White House say?
The White House also released a statement Wednesday condemning “the Maduro regime’s involvement in the death of Venezuelan opposition councilman Fernando Albán.”
The statement, from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, also called “for the immediate release of all Venezuelan political prisoners, and for the Maduro regime to take direct, credible steps to reestablish democracy in Venezuela and to prevent further suffering and bloodshed.”