Jailed opposition leader Lopez appeals, original judge says case was fabricated

Jailed opposition leader and figurehead Leopoldo Lopez angrily protests his innocence and condemns the government in an appeals hearing on his 14-year sentence for inciting violence, during protests in 2014. “I'm innocent of the crimes for which I've been charged," Lopez said at the trial, according to an audio recording released by his political party. But "I take responsibility for having denounced the Venezuelans government as corrupt, inefficient, anti-democratic and repressive.” 

One of the judges in the original case, Franklin Nieves, who has since fled to United States, sent a message to the judge and prosecutors at the appeal, saying “we received threats and orders to fabricate that case against Leopoldo Lopez. This is the opportunity to rectify.”

Meanwhile, President Maduro is said to accept an opposition proposal for the Vatican to help mediate between them. However, the Vatican has not officially accepted such a role.