Venezuelan investigators say a judge involved in the sentencing of a prominent politician has been killed in mysterious circumstances.
Nelson Antonio Moncada Gomez was gunned down in Caracas on Wednesday night.
According to the public prosecutor’s office, Moncada was confronted by a group of armed attackers on his way home at around 10 p.m. local time. He was shot several times and robbed.
The motive for the killing remains unknown, but the authorities haven’t ruled out the possibility that Moncada may have been targeted for political reasons.
“Judge Moncada was a member of the first chamber of the appeals court of the Caracas metropolitan criminal court circuit in 2016, and ratified the sentence imposed on Leopoldo Lopez,” Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said.
One of Venezuela’s most well known right-wing politicians, Lopez, was sentenced to more than 13 years imprisonment in 2015 for his role in a wave of right-wing political violence in 2014.
According to Reverol, Moncada also played a part in the trials of people involved in the 2014 opposition-led unrest known as the Guarimbas.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered his condolences to Moncada’s family and accused opposition groups of involvement.
“We are already on our way to identifying the murderers, a group of guarimberos of the MUD, undoubtedly,” he alleged, referring to the country’s largest opposition coalition, the MUD.
‘Guarimbero’ is a term used in Venezuela to describe right-wing groups who barricade roads, and are often armed.
Maduro also reiterated his hopes for peace and stability with the coming of the National Constituent Assembly.
Just hours after Moncada’s death was confirmed, another person was killed in unclear circumstances.
Forty-six-year-old María Estefania Rodriguez died during clashes at an opposition barricade in Lara state on Thursday.
Local media reports say Rodriguez wasn’t involved in the unrest, but was instead trying to cross the barricade when fighting broke out.