Venezuela detains 2 in student's slaying

AP News
Posted: Dec 11, 2009 7:12 PM

Two suspects have been detained in the killing of a university student whose death during a demonstration sparked protests by fellow students across Venezuela, authorities said Friday.

The two young men were being questioned about the shooting of 20-year-old Jesus Ramirez Bello during a protest in the southwestern city of San Cristobal, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said.

President Hugo Chavez called for a firm legal response and said those responsible must be brought to justice. He said if the gunman is a government supporter, "it's lamentable."

But Chavez said authorities also should go after others who he accused of inciting violence. He denounced in particular the opposition governor of Tachira state, Cesar Perez Vivas, claiming that official is conspiring against the national government.

Chavez blamed the police in Tachira state for not preventing clashes between pro- and anti-government students before Ramirez's death, and accused some of his opponents of using student protesters as "cannon fodder" to try to stir unrest.

Perez has denied government accusations that the Tachira police acted improperly and has accused armed groups linked to pro-Chavez partisans of being responsible for the student's killing on Tuesday.

Some of Tuesday's violence was caught on video, including footage of a masked gunman opening fire.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said the suspects would soon appear in court. No charges had been filed.

Hundreds of university students protested in Caracas and other cities this week to press for a thorough investigation into the slaying, which occurred as students held a demonstration to denounce power outages and gasoline shortages.