Venezuelan actors arrested over gay cops satirical play set free

Authorities had accused the actors of ridiculing and distorting the true functions of the police for their satirical performance

Four actors taking part in a satirical play about two gay police officers were freed Monday night, nearly 24 hours after they were arrested and accused of ridiculing and usurping the functions of Venezuela's authorities.

Actors Pedro Wise and Isaias Ovalle had been arrested on Sunday following a performance of "Two Cops in Trouble," which has been running at a Caracas theater since July 19.

Director Leonam Torres and producer Johana Villafranca were also arrested, and all four were accused of "the crime of usurping public function when pretending to present a theatrical piece while wearing the regulatory uniform" of police, according to an official dispatch leaked to Venezuelan media outlets.

The report said the actors had tried to "ridicule and distort the true functions of police," and that their outfits were confiscated as evidence.

A photograph of the detainees alongside their wives, together with police in camouflage uniforms was shared by online media.

A lawyer representing the detainees said performances of the play would resume Tuesday, but the actors would use "facsimiles of uniforms" and not the original costumes.

Ovalle had predicted his arrest in an Instagram story published on Sunday.

"If I wake up chopped up, incinerated, kidnapped or dead, you'll know why. It's not a game, it's serious, so come and see the show before it gets closed down," Ovalle wrote.

Carlos Correa, director of the Espacio Publico (Public Space) NGO, described the arrests as a "barbarity."

"It's an open violation of the human right of freedom of expression. The theater is a place for criticism," he told AFP.

Authorities had accused the actors of ridiculing and distorting the true functions of the police for their satirical performance