August 16, 2017 / 3:08 AM / a year ago

Venezuelan protesting violinist released by authorities

CARACAS, Aug 15 (Reuters) - A young violin player who became a symbol of anti-government protests in Venezuela was released on Tuesday after three weeks in detention, according to the country’s chief prosecutor.

Wuilly Arteaga, 23, had become one of the best-known faces of protests against unpopular Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He would play the National Anthem as tear gas enveloped him and rubber bullets flew around him.

Anti-government protests have rocked Venezuela for four months, leaving more than 120 people dead.

However, the protests have fizzled as a controversial Constituent Assembly, which has been criticized globally as a sign that Venezuela is turning into a dictatorship, went ahead earlier this month.

Arteaga was released Tuesday though under unspecified conditions, said newly-appointed chief prosecutor Tarek Saab on Twitter on Tuesday evening.

The musician was detained during a protest on July 27, according to activist Alfredo Romero of the Penal Forum rights group. Arteaga was beaten with his instrument by officials, leaving him hard of hearing, according to Romero.

“They burned his hair with a lighter, beat him very hard meaning that he can’t hear through his right ear,” Romero said in late July.

The country is undergoing a major crisis, with millions suffering food and medicine shortages and soaring inflation. (Reporting by Girish Gupta; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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