Venezuela seeks extradition of suspect accused of burning man to death

Joe Parkin Daniels
Photograph: Carlos Eduardo Ramirez/Reuters

Venezuela is seeking the extradition from Spain of a man accused of burning another man to death during anti-government protests in Caracas two years ago.

Related: Venezuela's rule of law has crumbled under Maduro, says legal watchdog

Enzo Franchini Oliveros is accused over the death of Orlando José Figuera, 21, who was beaten, stabbed, doused in petrol and set on fire during street clashes on 20 May 2017.

Franchini was arrested on Monday in a town near Madrid, according to a Spanish national police spokesperson.

Venezuela’s top prosecutor, Tarek William Saab, made the arrest public on Wednesday, accusing Franchini of crimes including “attempted murder and terrorism”.

Protests against Nicolás Maduro rocked Venezuela for several months in 2017, prompting a brutal response from security forces. More than 130 people died in the unrest and thousands were injured – most of them anti-government protesters caught in the crackdown.

Venezuela’s government has insisted Figuera was the victim of a political hate crime, who was targeted for supporting the government.

But the country’s top chief prosecutor at the time of the incident, Luisa Ortega Díaz, concluded that Figuera was stabbed after an altercation over a job application. Figuera’s assailant then accused him of being a thief; he was beaten, doused with petrol and set alight.

Ortega now lives in exile, having broken with Maduro’s government in August that year.

The conditions that led to the 2017 protests continue today, as Maduro fends off challenges to his power from opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is recognised as the legitimate leader by the US and most of the world’s democracies.

The United Nations’ refugee agency estimates that 4 million Venezuelans have left the country to escape food shortages, insecurity and economic collapse.

Last week, the UN’s human rights chief accused Maduro’s security forces of committing a series of “gross violations” against Venezuelan dissenters, including more than 5,000 extrajudicial executions.