UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday called for Venezuelan authorities to investigate the in-custody death of retired navy captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo, who was detained by unidentified armed men on June 21 and brought before a military tribunal June 28.
Arévalo’s lawyers and relatives were not made aware of his arrest on June 21, for seven days his whereabouts were unknown to them. When he was brought before a military tribunal by members of the Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence on June 28, his lawyer reported that he was in a wheelchair, unable to speak, and appeared to have been tortured. Arévalo was accused of having plotted to assassinate President Maduro of Venezuela. The presiding judge remanded him to a military hospital, where he died the following day.
Arévalo’s widow has also called for international support and an independent investigation by the UN to determine her husband’s cause of death.
The head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, condemned the Maduro regime on Twitter, saying that the “crimes of Nicolás Maduro will not go unpunished.”
The US Department of State also released a statement condemning the death of Arévalo as another act of violence committed by the Maduro regime to retain power.
I am shocked by the alleged torture of Captain Acosta Arévalo, and that his treatment in custody may have been the cause of his death. I remind the Venezuelan authorities that they are responsible for the life, and the physical and psychological integrity of all people deprived of their liberty.
I urge the authorities to conduct an in-depth investigation – including an autopsy meeting international standards – that is both independent and transparent.