Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela: Daniel Ceballos under house arrest

Daniel Ceballos in his Caracas flat with wife and three children Image copyright AP
Image caption Daniel Ceballos spent the first night with his family after nearly 17 months in jail

Jailed Venezuelan opposition politician Daniel Ceballos has been freed from jail and put under house arrest.

Mr Ceballos was jailed last year over anti-government protests in the city of San Cristobal, where he was mayor.

A judge agreed to transfer him from jail and put him under house arrest "for health reasons".

Mr Ceballos spent Tuesday night at his flat in Caracas, reunited with his wife and their three children.

"I have mixed feelings, but I'm happy to be with my family", he told journalists from the flat.

His wife, Patricia Gutierrez, vowed to continue fighting "for the freedom of all political prisoners".

Opposition supporters welcomed the decision to move Mr Ceballos from jail, but they said it did not go far enough. On social media they called for his "full freedom" to be restored.

Protest hotspot

Mr Ceballos was arrested in March 2014 and sentenced to 12 months in prison by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice for his failure to follow an order to stop anti-government protesters from erecting barricades in the streets of San Cristobal.

The city in western Venezuela was one of the hotspots of the anti-government protests which rocked parts of the country in early 2014.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Opposition supporters have been demanding the release from jail of Daniel Ceballos and Leopoldo Lopez

Mr Ceballos has served the 12 months he was sentenced to, but is still awaiting trial on more serious charges, including rebellion and conspiracy to commit a crime.

He is a member of the opposition Popular Will party who led last year's anti-government protests.

Forty-three people from both sides of the political divide died during several months of protests.

International pressure

Mr Ceballos was one of three high-profile opposition politicians to be arrested.

Popular Will party leader Leopoldo Lopez remains in a military jail and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma was placed under house arrest in April.

Mr Ledezma is accused of backing an alleged plot to depose President Nicolas Maduro while Mr Lopez is on trial for inciting violence and related charges.

Their supporters say the charges against them are politically motivated.

A group of former world leaders has been putting pressure on the Venezuelan government to release the three.

In April, 26 ex-leaders from Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia signed a letter demanding the release of "all those citizens who are in prison today for having exercised their right to freedom of expression".

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