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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Senior Venezuelan prosecutor says protester was killed by police

A protester retrieves a tear gas canister from security forces blocking an opposition march in Caracas (AP)
A protester retrieves a tear gas canister from security forces blocking an opposition march in Caracas (AP)

Venezuela's chief prosecutor has further distanced herself from the socialist administration by saying a 20-year-old protester was killed by a tear gas canister fired by state security forces.

The move by public prosecutor Luisa Ortega deepened a rift in a government that has otherwise presented a united front against six weeks of protests.

Her version of events contradicted others in the administration who have strenuously denied state forces were involved.

Those officials said the protester was killed by fellow demonstrators or criminals trying to make the government look bad.

Protests against President Nicolas Maduro's government continued on Wednesday, and there were more clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

Ms Ortega said 55 people have been killed and about 1,000 injured in the unrest that has broken out almost daily since late March.

She said about half of the deaths were caused by riot police and soldiers.

State-run television usually carries the speeches of government officials, but did not broadcast the one by Ms Ortega.

Ms Ortega announced she was opening seven investigations into the detention of civilians by military tribunals as a result of the anti-government protests.

She said trials of civilians by military authorities violate the country's constitution.

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