Venezuela opposition leader's appeal postponed

Caracas (AFP) - A Venezuelan court postponed a sensitive appeal hearing Thursday for a prominent jailed opposition leader, his lawyer said, sparking accusations of political interference.

The postponement came at a time of high political tension as President Nicolas Maduro resists opposition efforts to drive him from office.

Leopoldo Lopez, 45, was convicted in 2015 of inciting violence in deadly anti-government riots the year before.

A prosecutor in the case later fled the country and alleged Lopez's conviction was unsound.

Lopez is a senior leader of the centrist opposition to Maduro, a socialist.

He is one of scores of people the opposition says are being held by Maduro as political prisoners.

Lopez has appealed against his 14-year sentence and was scheduled to go before a judge on Thursday.

His lawyer Juan Carlos Gutierrez said the hearing was postponed because a protest blocked the route from the prison to the court.

"That was not the fault of Leopold Lopez or his defense team. In consequence, he should be immediately released," Gutierrez told reporters.

The leader of the opposition majority in the legislative assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, called the postponement a "ruse" to draw out a "political" legal process.

Lopez's family alleged this week that notes he had prepared for the defense hearing were confiscated from him in prison.

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