Venezuela to charge 11 soldiers over deaths of 12 young civilians
CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 28 (UPI) — Venezuela’s Public Ministry said 11 members of the national army will be charged connection to the deaths of 12 young civilians whose bodies were found last week.
The dozen decomposing corpses are believed to be 12 missing youths who disappeared in October after a Liberation of the People, or OLP, security operation in the Miranda state’s city of Barlovento.
Two bodies were found Friday and 10 were found in a mass grave on Saturday in a mountainous area of the Acevedo municipality.
OLP is a nationwide effort to battle crime that began in 2015 under President Nicolas Maduro. The Venezuelan opposition, human rights groups and local residents said OLP has led to the killings and arrests of innocent people and to the destruction of private property.
“On the topic of the apprehended officials, the Public Ministry will attribute them to several crimes, all related to the violation of fundamental rights,” the Public Ministry said in a statement, adding that officials are working to identify the remains.
Jesus “Chuo” Torrealba, leader of the Venezuelan opposition, said what occurred during the OLP operation in Barlovento is not an “isolated act.”
“We are talking about a terrible situation. A situation of generalized violence, because the honest citizen is killed by the underworld or killed by operations like the OLP,” Torrealba said during a radio broadcast. “This is not a question of dismissing five, seven, 10, 12, uniformed murderers. The point is that we have to change the criminal policy.”
Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Gen. Nestor Reverol, who was indicted in the United States earlier this year on cocaine trafficking charges, said that the actions of the accused “do not represent the feelings, thoughts and actions of our beloved National Bolivarian Armed Forces.”
“These troops are already behind bars. Our Commander in Chief Nicolas Maduro has instructed us to apply the maximum punishment,” Reverol said during a press conference on Saturday.