Leopoldo Lopez Venezuela Opposition Protests Caracas New York Times
Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez speaks to supporters before handing himself over in Caracas [file photo] Reuters

Venezuela's Supreme Court has upheld the 14-year prison sentence of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez on Thursday (16 February). The 45-year-old was found guilty of inciting violence during protests in 2014 in which 43 people were killed. He was sentenced in September 2015.

Lopez has claimed that his sentence was politically motivated. The court's ruling on an appeal has made the decision final, officials said.

The court's decision comes a day after US President Donald Trump met with Lopez's wife Lilian Tintori in Washington and sought the former leader's release.

Shortly after meeting with Tintori, Trump tweeted a picture of himself standing with Tintori and wrote: "Venezuela should allow Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner and husband of @liliantintori out of prison immediately."

After Tintori arrived in Venezuela following her meeting with Trump, she told BBC: "Under this dictatorship, every sentence is null. Trump is with the people of Venezuela."

Trump's comment reportedly ramped up tensions as Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez accused the US president of interfering in the country's domestic matters.

She tweeted saying that she rejected "the meddling and aggression of US President @realDonaldTrump who tries to give orders in our fatherland." She added that Trump "sided with the boss behind violent acts".

Lopez had previously said through his defence team that there were some irregularities in the trial. The judge had reportedly only heard 50 witnesses from the defence while he heard 138 witnesses from prosecution, the pointed out.