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Venezuelan Judge Convicts, Jails 8 Chavez Opponents - 2004-10-14

A court in the western Venezuelan state of Tachira has ordered eight opponents of President Hugo Chavez jailed for up to six years for their roles during the aborted coup against the president in April 2002.

Judge Gerson Nino acquitted a ninth man of rebellion-related charges in handing out the verdicts early Thursday.

Three of the defendants, who were convicted for storming the Tachira state governor's mansion and detaining Governor and Chavez ally Ronald Blanco La Cruz, were sentenced to six years in prison. The other five received three-year terms for their participation in the incident.

The defendants continued to maintain their innocence. Defense attorney Carlos Bastidas said he will appeal the verdicts of the seven men and one woman, who have been jailed since their June 2003 arrests.