Venezuelan man who shot U.S. attaches sentenced to prison

Reuters

By Daniel Wallis

CARACAS (Reuters) - A Venezuelan man has been sentenced to 5-1/2 years in prison for shooting and wounding two U.S. military attaches at a strip club in the capital, the attorney general's office said on Friday.

Carlos Mejias, 32, admitted he shot the U.S. Embassy employees in the early hours of May 28.

The office said Mejias got into an argument with them at the Antonella 2012 club, better known as "Angelus," in the city's upscale Chacao district.

"Later he pulled out a gun and repeatedly fired at the Americans, leaving them wounded at the location," it said in a statement.

Five days later, Mejias turned himself in to authorities, it said. The U.S. Embassy in Caracas did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

One of the attaches was shot in the leg and the other in the stomach, police said. An embassy statement at the time said the injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

Venezuela suffers from one of the world's highest murder rates. Armed robberies and kidnappings are also common, and this month the embassy tightened its security rules for travel in the capital by its employees.

President Nicolas Maduro this year announced the latest campaign to crack down on violent crime. About 20 such efforts have been launched since his predecessor, the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, took office in 1999.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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