National News

Feb 20, 2014 11:36 AM by Associated Press

Opposition leader faces charges

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - An opposition leader in Venezuela is facing criminal charges for organizing a rally that set off a deadly week of turmoil in the South American country.

A judge ruled today that there's enough evidence to hold Leopoldo Lopez on charges that include arson and criminal incitement. Prosecutors decided not to pursue more serious charges, including homicide and terrorism.

Lopez surrendered to authorities at a rally in front of thousands of cheering supporters this week.

In a nationally-broadcast speech late yesterday, President Nicolas Maduro had suggested that Lopez would remain in custody and face criminal charges. He said he had ordered the arrest of Lopez, and that, in his words, "That's what will happen with all of the fascists." He said he won't let Lopez "challenge the people of Venezuela" and their constitution.

The government has accused Lopez of trying to spark a coup. He's a former mayor and the leader of the Popular Will party.

Overnight, anti-government protesters in Caracas and other cities set trash fires in the streets and threw rocks at National Guard troops, who fired tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets.

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