October 02, 2008
CARACAS -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has ordered authorities to quickly solve the murder of a prominent student leader who helped lead opposition protests.
Education Minister Hector Navarro told Venezuela's state news agency on Thursday that Chávez wants police to catch those who killed Julio Soto ``as soon as possible.''
The student leader's vehicle was sprayed with gunfire Wednesday as he was leaving his university in the western city of Maracaibo.
Police said nothing was stolen from him. It remains unclear if the killing was politically motivated.
Soto helped lead protests last year against sweeping constitutional changes proposed by Chávez.
Those measures would have let Chávez run for re-election indefinitely but were rejected by voters.
Federal police chief Marcos Chávez said investigators have questioned various people about the case and have carried out raids while searching for evidence.
A small group of students held a vigil holding white roses at the entrance to the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas.
Student leaders met to discuss how they will respond to the killing. Some said they plan peaceful protests against rampant violent crime.
''We want peace,'' said Juan Daniel Tapia, a student member of the opposition party Copei, to which Soto also belonged. ``Enough with all the hate and injustice in Venezuela.''