Venezuela faces calls for probe after opposition activist dies in custody

Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro demonstrate in front of the SEBIN intelligence service where the government says opposition councillor Fernando Alban committed suicide

Alban had been jailed over accusations that he took part in an alleged, failed drone attack on President Nicolas Maduro on August 4.

The country's chief prosecutor said that Alban killed himself Monday by leaping from the 10th floor of the state police agency's headquarters, where he was being held for alleged involvement in an global plot to kill Maduro using explosive-laden drones.

He was in the US accompanying other members of his First Justice party for meetings with foreign dignitaries attending the United Nations General Assembly.

United Nations human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva news briefing her office was concerned by the news of Alban's death and because he had not been taken before a judge within 48 hours of his arrest as required under Venezuelan law.

"We are concerned about news of his death".

Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is in Venezuela for meetings with Maduro and his opponents, called Alban's death while in the government's custody "disturbing".

Fernando Alban, a Caracas city council member accused of taking part in a failed drone attack on President Nicolas Maduro, was in pretrial detention Monday at the time of his death, which the government presented as a suicide. The European Union said it expected a "thorough and independent investigation".

Maduro said the blasts were from explosives-laden drones sent to assassinate him, though opposition figures accuse Maduro of fabricating the incident to step up repression in his country, which is suffering an economic crisis.

First Justice's national coordinator, Julio Borges, said Alban's lifeless body was thrown from the SEBIN's headquarters on Caracas' Plaza Venezuela.

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First Justice said Alban's arrest was owing to statements he made at the U.N. General Assembly last month in NY denouncing humans rights violations in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government and the opposition have also disputed the reasons behind Alban's arrest. On Monday, Reverol said Alban had also been investigated for "destabilizing activities directed from overseas".

"Those of us who knew Fernando know that he could NEVER have acted against his life", he said on Twitter.

The United States imposed new sanctions on several of Maduro's top allies last week as President Donald Trump urged UN members to support a "restoration of democracy" in Venezuela.

The government has denied that it is detaining people as political prisoners and said they were fairly jailed.

Crowds calling for justice gathered outside the building in Caracas where he had been held prisoner.

"We will be looking at all issues that are related to the human rights situation in Venezuela", Shamdasani said.

Venezuelan prisons are overcrowded and conditions are "horrible", with inmates deprived of food and drinking water, Shamdasani said on Tuesday.

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