Venezuela Launches Commission to Investigate Prison Riot


Holt has been in the prison for roughly two years as his family and USA officials have called for his release, noting his health has taken several turns for the worse.

Joshua Holt, a United States citizen held at the jail for two years pending trial, pleaded for help in a video message sent as the uprising was apparently going on.

Venezuela's Public Ministry has set up an ad hoc commission that will investigate a prison riot among inmates at a crowded Caracas detention center on Wednesday.

Holt, of Riverton, has been incarcerated in Venezuela since 2016 after he traveled there to marry his fiance. In two 20-second videos shot on a cell phone, a visibly distraught Joshua Holt suggested that his patience is running out with the US government, which has made his release a top priority in its dealings with Venezuela's socialist government. The embassy tweeted that Venezuela's government is responsible for the safety of prisoners and will be held accountable if something happens. "This has been taken over peacefully by all the political prisoners and all the prisoners who are abducted here, who are tortured daily", a man said in one of the videos.

Josh Holt, 26, can be seen in a Facebook video pleading for help from the USA government after claiming that the prison "has fallen" to people wanting to kill him. They're outside, they're trying to break in. I have been begging my government for two years. "They are saying that they want me as their guarantee". They're saying they want to kill me. "That delegation spoke to a representative of the prisoners to respond to their requests". He appeared with a bruised face in pictures on social media.

His first-ever video message from jail came amid what the US government described as a "riot" Wednesday by fellow inmates, including some of President Nicolas Maduro's top opponents.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the US Embassy in Venezuela said: "We are anxious about the riot in the Helicoide". Holt denies the charges.

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In a second video he addressed his compatriots directly, asking them to help free him.

Mr Ceballos, the former opposition mayor of the western city of San Cristóbal, said the inmates had taken control of parts of the jail.

"I'm here to show you that I am not being kidnapped", Holt says in the video, which he didn't post to his Facebook account.

"The life of Joshua Holt is in danger and we call again on the government to release him for humanitarian reasons", the embassy wrote in Spanish.

The Trump administration has warned that it could put crippling oil sanctions on Venezuela if Maduro goes ahead with what the US and others consider a sham presidential election Sunday. "The Venezuelan government is directly responsible for the security, and we will make it responsible if something happens to them".

Senator Orrin Hatch has been working with the Trump Administration to bring Holt and his wife home.