CARACAS - A Venezuelan court charged retired General Antonio Rivero on Monday with inciting post-election violence in the latest political flash point in the bitterly divided nation.
Opposition leaders say Rivero, a member of the Popular Will movement that is a driving force of Venezuela's opposition coalition, became new President Nicolas Maduro's first political prisoner when he was arrested over the weekend.
Authorities say he was one of those behind a wave of violence, on the day after Maduro's disputed April 14 election, that represented a coup attempt and killed nine people.
Rivero, who was an ally of former socialist President Hugo Chavez until 2008, was charged with "conspiracy" and "public instigation" at a Caracas court after authorities showed a video of him helping coordinate protesters in the capital's streets.
"This is part of the persecution the government has carried out, to spread fear," opposition leader and losing presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said, calling for Rivero's release and an end to alleged harassment of his supporters.