Alonso Medina Roa, the lawyer of Captain Rafael Acosta Arevalo, announced yesterday that two individuals had been arrested in connection to the death of his client. Medina said that he expected that the two officers, whose names he did not provide, will be charged with murder.
The news was confirmed earlier today by Attorney General Tarek El Aissami, who said that the two National Guard officers appeared in court today as suspects in the case. According to the Public Ministry, the officer’s names are:
- Lt. Ascanio Tarascio Mejia (23)
- 2nd Sgt. Estiben Jose Zarate Soto (22)
The statement from the Public Ministry says that while the two officers serve with the National Guard, they were attached to the National Directorate for Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM).
Acosta died in hospital during the overnight hours of June 29 after spending a week in regime detention. He was ordered to the hospital after appearing at a court hearing in a wheelchair showing “serious signs of torture”.
Medina also shot back at the accusations made against Acosta by the Maduro regime even after his death by pointing out that his client died an innocent man, since none of the accusations were ever proven in court. He said:
Acosta Arevalo died an innocent man because there was never a trial. Nothing was ever proven.
Acosta is the second person to die while in the custody of the Venezuelan authorities.
Last October, opposition politician Fernando Alban died under suspicious circumstances while under the custody of the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional [National Bolivarian Intelligence Service, SEBIN]. The authorities allege that Alban threw himself out of a window.
Bachelet “Shocked” by Acosta’s Killing
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet issued a statement today in which she said that she was “extremely worried” about Acosta’s death.
In the statement, Bachelet is quoted as saying:
I am shocked by the alleged torture of captain Acosta Arevalo, and because the way in which he was treated while in custody could have caused his death. I remind the Venezuelan authorities that they are responsible for the lives and physical integrity of all of its prisoners. I urge the authorities to carry out a deep investigation–including an autopsy the meets international standards–that is independent and transparent. That is essential to bring to light not only what happened to him, but also to bring to justice those responsible for his death.
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