A Venezuelan judge ruled Thursday that Leopoldo Lopez, a harsh government critic and former mayor of a Caracas suburb, will face trial on charges of incitement to violence and will continue to be held without bond.
Clashes between demonstrators and security forces have left about 50 people dead and hundreds injured since early February. Opponents of the government are protesting against scarcities, the ailing economy and rising crime.
On Wednesday, student leaders appeared for the third straight day at the Palace of Justice, where the hearings were held, to protest the detention of Lopez as well as student protesters Marco Coello, Christian Holdack, Damian Martin and Angel Gonzalez.
Lopez's defense attorney, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, told a radio interviewer after Thursday's ruling that the judge's actions were "damaging to the truth and to legal rights.... The proofs of the defense were denied in a way that we went to the hearing completely hamstrung and silenced in terms of being able to prove" the former mayor's innocence.
Another Maduro critic, newspaper editor Teodoro Petkoff, faces "aggravated defamation" charges brought by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and must appear every eight days before a tribunal in connection with the charges.