Charges dropped against hundreds of Venezuelans arrested during anti-government protests

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Venezuelan courts have dropped all charges against hundreds of demonstrators detained during anti-government protests that wracked the South American country this spring.

A local human rights organization announced Thursday that 276 demonstrators no longer face prosecution for vandalism and inciting violence. Their arrests will not be noted on their records.

Nizar El Fakih is spokesman for the Human Rights Center of Andres Bello Catholic University. He says the charges were dropped in recent days because there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

Human rights groups say the dismissals confirm that the arrests were illegal.

The Venezuelan Criminal Forum estimates more than 3,000 people were arrested during the protests against economic and social problems. Several hundred cases are still open, and 74 people remain in custody.