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Emblematic violinist banned from Venezuela anti-govt protests

© AFP/File | Venezuelan opposition demonstrator Wuilly Arteaga, shown here playing his violin during a May protest against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, has been banned from rallies after nearly three weeks in prison Arteaga, 23, was freed overnight on August 15, 2017 after spending 19 days in police custody, attorney general Tarek William Saab said on Twitter.


A young violinist who became a symbolic feature of Venezuelan protests against President Nicolas Maduro has been banned from taking part in any more demonstrations following his release from custody, a rights group said Thursday.

Wuilly Arteaga, 23, has orders to report to court every eight days to make sure he is complying with the order, according to the head of the Foro Penal group, Alfredo Romero.

Arteaga was released on Tuesday after being held for 19 days on charges of instigating violence and carrying an incendiary device.

He had become an offbeat regular at the chaotic rallies that have sent shockwaves through Venezuela, as the opposition tries to force early elections to push President Nicolas Maduro out of office.

Amid the clamor, the skinny performer played traditional Venezuelan music or the national anthem.

The violinist was among some 50 people arrested in late July on the second day of a 48-hour strike orchestrated by the opposition against Maduro and his plans to elect an assembly packed with loyalists to rewrite Venezuela's constitution.

"I can't be free because my country is NOT free and because political prisoners aren't free either. This 'freedom' suffocates," Arteaga wrote on Twitter.

Romero criticized the bail condition and rejected prosecutors' allegations that the violinist carried any weapon.

He slammed an order saying Arteaga could only have a public defender instead of one offered by Foro Penal, and repeated an allegation that the violinist had been tortured while in custody.

Foro Penal says that since the rallies started, some 5,300 people have been arrested and around 1,000 of them remain in custody.

© 2017 AFP