Venezuela opposition blames Maduro for detained activist's death

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CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s opposition blamed President Nicolas Maduro’s government on Monday for the death of a sick activist in detention, saying he was framed and then denied medical help.

Carlos Garcia, a local legislator in western Apure state, suffered a stroke in August after being arrested in late 2016 during protests and having money planted on him, his party said.

Two days before his death on Sunday, Garcia was granted house arrest but was never transported home, the Justice First party added in a statement, saying the accusations were invented and he was never allowed adequate medical help.

“He should never have been in prison and should never have died at the hands of a repressive government whose hands today more than ever are stained with blood,” said the party’s secretary general, Tomas Guanipa.

Venezuela’s opposition parties accuse Maduro, the 54-year-old successor of Hugo Chavez, of being a dictator and maintaining hundreds of political prisoners on trumped-up charges.

He denies that, saying all activists behind bars are there on legitimate charges, including for “terrorism” and coup-plotting against his socialist government.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court said Garcia had been detained on suspicion of theft, instigation of disorder, and arson.

He had received “appropriate medical attention” in hospital for a condition of “immuno-deficient infectious disease,” which may have led to the fatal brain problem, it added in a statement.

“We request the nation’s political leaders to abstain from giving irresponsible opinions with false information intended to cause alarm in the population. On the contrary, we must give Christian respect to this Venezuelan citizen’s memory.”

Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Jonathan Oatis