The US State Department called on Thursday (14) for an independent investigation to determine the cause of death of retired General Raúl Baduel, former defense minister of Venezuela and considered a political prisoner in the country. The United Nations (UN) human rights office also called for an investigation into the case and the release of the detainees who were arbitrarily detained.
Chavista regime officials said Baduel died of cardiac arrest as a result of Covid-19 on Tuesday, without saying whether he was in a hospital or in prison when he died. The military man was imprisoned at the headquarters of Sebin, the country’s intelligence service.
His family members, who learned of the death through social networks, disagree with this version and say that he was not infected with coronavirus. His daughter, Andreina Baduel, claimed yesterday that her father was murdered by the Venezuelan regime. Also on Wednesday, Baduel’s relatives were at the morgue and demanded that his body not be cremated.
“The recent death of Venezuelan political prisoner Raúl Baduel reminds the world of the deplorable and dangerous conditions faced by political prisoners in regime custody [do ditador Nicolás] Mature,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told the press. He added that the US government demands the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in the South American country.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Raúl Baduel in detention,” said the UN human rights office, headed by High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, in Twitter post.
“We call on Venezuela to ensure an independent investigation, take all necessary steps to ensure access to health services for detainees, consider alternative measures to detention and arbitrarily release all detainees.”
Baduel was a faithful ally of Hugo Chávez, but he turned against him when the former president proposed an authoritarian constitutional reform in the country. He was arrested in 2009 and was released on parole in 2015. According to Venezuelan justice, he failed to fulfill the requirements of the parole, which landed him again in prison in 2017. Baduel was later charged with new crimes, including against integrity and independence of the nation, which caused his sentence to be extended indefinitely.
The Baduel family’s lawyer, Omar Mora Tosta, assured, in an interview with “VPI”, that the cause of death of the soldier needs to be investigated and that a request has already been made for the delivery of the body. “That doesn’t happen like in other cases, in which they crumble or cream people at will,” said the representative.
In addition, Mora Tosta guaranteed that he will request an investigation by an “international commission” to determine the causes of death of the former minister, guaranteeing that there is no credibility in the attorney general’s version.
Venezuela currently has 260 political prisoners
The director-president of the NGO Foro Penal, Alfredo Romero, said on Thursday that there are 260 people detained in Venezuela who are considered “political prisoners” – one less than in the balance released last week by the organization, before the death of Raul Baduel.
According to information published by the activist on Twitter, 245 men and 14 women are incarcerated. By occupation, there are 133 soldiers and 127 civilians, indicates the source. In addition, the NGO Foro Penal also indicated that it had records of a teenager in the custody of Venezuelan authorities.
The organization recalled that, since 2014, it recorded 15,747 arrests for political reasons and that it provided assistance to more than 12,000 citizens who are now freed. In addition, more than 9,000 people in Venezuela are facing “restrictive freedom measures,” according to the NGO.
On September 6, the NGO’s latest bulletin reported that 42 of the 262 citizens considered political prisoners in Venezuela were “in critical health”.
Last Tuesday, the NGO reported that 12 political prisoners, who had been in State custody, since 2014 have died in the country.