Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Venezuela Launches Commission to Investigate Prison Riot

Venezuela Launches Commission to Investigate Prison Riot

A riot erupted on Wednesday at a detention center where dozens of government opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and a Mormon missionary from Utah are detained, activists and relatives said on Wednesday.

A group of about 30 people, many of them family members of inmates considered by many to be political prisoners, gathered outside the jail to seek information about their loved ones as a number of videos and audio recordings from inside the jail flooded social media.

"I need help. They have taken the entire prison where I am at", he can be heard saying in the first video.

In videos posted on social media, Venezuelan activists, including a man identified as Sanabria whose face was bruised, pleaded for help.

In a video seen on Twitter late on Wednesday Holt said, "I'm here to show you that I am not being kidnapped".

"They're outside", he says, "They're trying to break in". "I have been begging my government for two years". They're saying they want to kill me. "They say that they are doing things, but I'm still here and now my life is threatened". "They are saying that they want me as their guarantee".

Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab tweeted, "In the face of the events that happened today in the Sebin headquarters at the Helicoide, we sent a commission of the prosecutor's office to the facility".

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Holt was arrested after traveling to Venezuela in the summer of 2016 to marry a woman, a Venezuelan native, who he had met on a dating website.

"We are concerned about the riot at El Helicoide", Mr Robinson said in a statement, referring to the helix-shaped building where Maduro's top opponents are being held.

But Maduro's comments were overshadowed by reports of a major disturbance at El Helicoide, an iconic 1950s shopping mall that was converted into the headquarters of Venezuela's feared spy agency, the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), and has become a crumbling symbol of the country's plunge into economic chaos and authoritarianism.

The only people who are kidnapping me is the government of Venezuela.

"Joshua Holt and other USA citizens are in danger".

In a Spanish-language tweet, the U.S. embassy in Caracas said it was very concerned about the riot and the wellbeing of Holt and other USA citizens.

"The Government of Venezuela is directly responsible for their safety and will be held responsible if anything happens to them".

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