Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says protestors set the man on fire "just because someone shouted out that he was a 'Chavista'." Witnesses to the incident say the crowd had accused the victim of being a thief.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro excoriated opposition protesters on Sunday (May 21) for setting a man on fire during a demonstration, accusing them of targeting him for being pro-government.
"A a person was set on fire, beaten up, they stabbed him four times. They hit him and nearly lynched him, just because someone shouted out that he was a 'Chavista'," Maduro said, referring to the ruling socialist movement set up by his predecessor Hugo Chavez.
Some witnesses to the incident on Saturday (May 20) afternoon, said the crowd had accused the man of being a thief.
About 100 people, who had been participating in anti-Maduro protests, surrounded him, doused him in gasoline and set him on fire in Plaza Altamira in east Caracas, the witnesses said.
Though some in the crowd said he should die, others helped him and the man survived.
Showing a video of the incident on state TV, Maduro identified the man as Orlando Figuera, 21, saying he was being treated in hospital for severe burns.
The incident occured after the 50th day of protestering over food and medical shortages, and the failing economy. The victim is currently in hospital with first and second degree burns to his body and several stabbed wounds.