Venezuela jails two US ex-soldiers over failed ‘invasion’

In this photo released by Venezuela's Miraflores presidential press office, Maduro shows what authorities claim are identification documents of Berry, right, and Denman, left, during a conference in Caracas, May 6, 2020. (AP)

Two former US soldiers have been sentenced to 20 years in prison in Venezuela on charges including terrorism, after a failed bid to invade the Caribbean country last May, Attorney General Tarek William Saab said.

Luke Alexander Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, “admitted” to “conspiracy, association (to commit crimes), illicit trafficking of war weapons and terrorism” over the attempted invasion, allegedly aimed at toppling President Nicolas Maduro, Saab said on Twitter around midnight Friday.

They were sentenced during a court hearing, he said, and posted photographs of vehicles, weapons and identity documents.

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Denman and Berry are among the 91 people Venezuela says it captured in thwarting the botched incursion from the sea on May 3, which saw armed men land in Macuto, less than an hour from Caracas.

Maduro claimed it was a plot to assassinate him, and Caracas has accused US President Donald Trump of being directly responsible for the raid, in which eight attackers were allegedly killed.

The US has denied any involvement.

Maduro has also accused Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido – who in January 2019 declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority – of planning the invasion, a charge Guaido denies.

Trump has long opposed Maduro, a leftist who presides over a crumbling economy and whose re-election was widely seen as marred by irregularities.

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Last Update: Sunday, 09 August 2020 KSA 23:38 - GMT 20:38
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