The Maduro regime issued a half-hearted recognition of the killing of Captain Rafael Acosta Arevalo, who died in hospital yesterday after spending eight days in custody. Acosta was taken to hospital after appearing in court showing “serious signs of torture”.
Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez shared an official statement on his Twitter account yesterday that acknowledges Acosta’s death, but deflects all responsibility for his killing.
Acosta was arrested on June 21 as a suspect in an alleged plot to overthrow Maduro. He appeared in court on June 28 in such a critical condition that the judge ordered the proceedings to stop so that Acosta could be sent to hospital to receive medial attention. He died a few hours later, at approximately 1:00 AM on June 29, at the Vicente Salias military hospital in Fuerte Tiuna.
The statement begins with a lengthy explanation of the “continued and cunning intentions of the enemies” of the Maduro government, and alludes that Acosta was involved in a plot to murder Maduro and his family. The statement continues:
During the course of these events, citizen Rafael Acosta Arevalo–who had been charged with the serious crimes of terrorism, sedition, attempted magnicide–died…
None of the allegations made against Arevalo were proven in court.
The same statement also claims that Maduro has called for an “complete and exhaustive” investigation into Acosta’s killing.
Following the release of the statement, Attorney General Tarek William Saab said that that he would work to “determine [those] responsible” for his death.
Neither Rodriguez nor Saab mentioned in their statement the “serious signs torture” that Arevalo exhibited during his brief court appearance.
Arevalo’s Lawyer Confirms Client was Tortured
Alonso Medina Roa, the lawyer representing Arevalo, spoke to the media about the torture that his client suffered while under the custody of regime authorities.
According to Medina, Acosta’s fingernails were bloody, and he could neither stand nor speak properly. It is for this reason, Medina said, that Acosta was taken to his court appearance in a wheelchair.
Medina also said that according to Venezuelan law, everyone who is detained must be brought before a judge within 48 hours of his or her detention, and that his client did not appear before a judge until seven days after his arrest.
Guaido: “No Words” to Describe Acosta’s Killing
Juan Guaido spoke on Acosta’s killing, saying that he had “no words to describe this abominable act”.
Guaido also said that he would work to bring details of Acosta’s killing to the attention of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, whose visit to Venezuela earlier this month left behind a permanent office.
In a tweet, Guaido also sent a message to the members of the armed forces and their relatives in which he suggested that Cuban agents inside the Venezuelan security forces might have played a role in Acosta’s death. He said:
To our military family: You are not alone. There will be justice. [This is] a murderous, criminal and torturous dictatorship. This will not be allowed to stand if the men and women of the [armed forces] know what they must do to save the homeland and the military institution: expel the invading Cubans and defend the constitution.
US, Lima Group React to Killing
United States National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted about Acosta’s killing, saying:
The Lima Group also reacted to news of Acosta’s killing in a message shared on the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. The message partially reads:
[The Lima Group members] condemn the murder of Corvette Captain Rafael Acosta Arevalo and express their condolences to his family.
The Captain was arrested by armed men on June 21 and brought before a judge seven days later, on June 28, showing visible signs of torture. The seriousness of his health condition forced the judge to send him to a hospital, where he died on June 29.
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