CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela's chief prosecutor further distanced herself from the socialist administration Wednesday, deepening the widest rift in a government that has otherwise presented a united front against six weeks of protests.
Public Prosecutor Luisa Ortega said a 20-year-old protester had been killed by a tear gas canister fired by state security forces, giving a version of events that contradicted others in the administration who have strenuously denied state forces were involved. Those officials said the protester was killed either by fellow demonstrators or criminals trying to make the government look bad.
Late Wednesday, Ortega announced that she was opening seven investigations into civilians who have been detained by military tribunals as a result of the anti-government protests. She said trials of civilians by military authorities violate the country's constitution.
Protests against President Nicolas Maduro's government continued Wednesday, and there were more clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
Ortega said 55 people have been killed and about 1,000 injured in the unrest that has been seen 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 Ortega.