April 25, 2015 / 9:05 PM / 3 years ago

Venezuela opposition mayor Ledezma out of jail for surgery

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition mayor Antonio Ledezma was out of jail and in a Caracas clinic on Saturday, awaiting an operation after being granted house arrest on medical grounds.

A police officer stands guard outside the clinic where arrested Caracas metropolitan mayor Antonio Ledezma was transferred due to medical problems in Caracas April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The 59-year-old politician - whose detention in February has become a cause célèbre for rights groups pressuring President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government - was to undergo surgery for a recurrence of a hernia, his wife and lawyers said.

He is then due to go home for recovery, though proceedings against him on conspiracy charges will continue.

The government says Ledezma was plotting with young radicals to overthrow Maduro. But supporters of the Caracas mayor say the allegations are trumped up and intended to weaken the opposition to distract Venezuelans from economic problems.

“He is in the clinic. They are going to operate on him tomorrow or the day after,” Omar Estacio, one of Ledezma’s lawyers, said in an interview. “He is in good spirits. It is a hernia that was operated last May but has reproduced.”

While house arrest was better than jail, Estacio said Ledezma and his supporters will not be happy until he is declared innocent.

“The battle continues for his full freedom. We don’t want partial or conditional liberty, or house arrest.”

Ledezma, one of the most hardline opposition leaders whom Maduro supporters mock as “The Vampire,” had been held at the Ramo Verde military prison outside Caracas where opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is also kept.

Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne and Deisy Buitrago, editing by G Crosse

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