CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan judicial authorities have allowed a former opposition mayor jailed during a wave of anti-government protests in 2014 to swap his cell for house arrest because of poor health.
Relatives and supporters of Vicencio Scarano, former mayor of San Diego in central Carabobo, welcomed his freedom from jail, but the move did not seem to signal any wider release for other jailed opponents of President Nicolas Maduro.
Scarano was detained last March for failing to clear street barricades during a wave of protests against Maduro that left 43 people dead and hundreds injured, including demonstrators, government supporters and security officers.
The Supreme Court said late on Friday that he needed an urgent operation. “Home arrest instead of jail for Enzo Scarano due to his state of health,” the court said via Twitter.
Scarano is one of the best-known of a handful of jailed opposition figures, along with protest leader Leopoldo Lopez and another former major Daniel Ceballos.
While opposition parties call them “political prisoners”, the government says they are “imprisoned politicians” who have broken Venezuela’s laws and thus face justice like anyone else.
“Before anything, thank God, always on our side,” tweeted Scarano’s wife, Rosa Scarano, who won an election to replace her husband as mayor of San Diego soon after his arrest.
As a condition of his house arrest, Scarano was banned from political activity, going abroad or speaking to media.
Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Andrew Heavens