“My son’s murderers are still free”


Correspondent in Caracas

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The attorney general of the International Criminal Court (TPI), Karim Khanwill be visiting Caracas for three days, an occasion that NGOs and victims of human rights violations want to take advantage of to be heard and present their cases live.

His visit seeks to verify on the ground the situation of human rights in Venezuela, according to numerous reports of rape and torture of political prisoners, to decide whether to open an investigation after Khan’s predecessor in the ICC Prosecutor’s Office nearly four years ago, Fatou Bensouda, launch a ‘preliminary examination’.

This week they demonstrated at the entrance to the headquarters of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), located on Caracas Francisco de Miranda avenue in Chacao. NGO activists are confident that “they will be included in the prosecutor’s agenda, which they previously were not,” lawyers tell ABC Joel garcia and Alonso Medina Roa, directors of the Coalition for Human Rights and Democracy.

“We are not on the agenda. That is why we ask the prosecutor Karim Khan to open a space for him to listen to the victims of the violation of human rights “, says the defender García.

“He received a big beating and they put cardboard on his head for a week,” says Jocelín Vásquez, aunt of the tortured Mari Franci Marcano

“It makes no sense for the prosecutor to listen to only one side of those responsible for the crimes in Venezuela, where there is no judicial independence, and judging only the material perpetrators of the murders is not justice. It is also necessary to judge the superiors who gave the order to carry out the crimes “, emphasizes Joel García.

The defender García mentions the case of the captain Rafael Acosta Arevalo, who died in 2019 after being tortured. “The responsibility lies not only with the two soldiers of the Dgcim (General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence) who tortured him, but also with the senior officials of the regime of Nicolas Maduro who gave the order.

Prosecutor Karim Khan analyzes an extensive file with about 200 cases of political, civil and military prisoners who have been tortured, including 10 detainees who have died in the custody of the Venezuelan State such as the former Defense Minister, General Raul Baduel, the last of those who died last week, supposedly by Covid-19, the regime claims.

Tortured women

In conversation with ABC, Angélica Neuta, wife of the third sergeant major of the National Guard Jose Antonio Penalosa, denounced that her husband is a political prisoner who is being held in the Sebin (Bolivarian National Intelligence Service) prison in El Helicoide along with 80 other people accused of terrorists for participating in Operation Gideon in May 2020.

“My husband was sentenced to 24 years in prison. In the clandestine trial, he did not have the right to defense. I take advantage of this means to report that Ana Maria Pernía, 39 years old, held in the women’s prison in Inof, was tortured last year by the Dgcim for Operation Gideon and is in a deplorable situation in her cell without food or medicine, ”says Neuta.

A moment of concentration before the UNDP headquarters in Caracas
A moment of concentration before the UNDP headquarters in Caracas – L. Vinogradoff

Another woman tortured by Operation Gideon is Mari France Marcano, 35 years old. “He received a big beating and the Dgcim soldiers put a cardboard on his head for a week”, denounces his aunt Jocelin Vasquez.

What surprises Aunt Jocelín Vásquez, 47, is that her niece Mari France, mother of three young children, was arrested by Dgcim agents along with her friend Ana María Pernía on April 25 of last year, both tortured about 20 days before Operation Gideon took place. «Their bond is to be the sister of Carlos Marcano», One of the accused of terrorism of the Maduro regime.

Those executed by the FAES

According to the founder and director of the NGO Cofavic, Liliana ortegaIn Venezuela, at least 13,000 cases of alleged extrajudicial executions have been registered during the Maduro government, he told ABC.

Ivon Parra, mother of Guillermo Jose Parra, 20, who was executed on December 12, 2017 by the FAES (Special Action Force). He told ABC that “the murderers of my only son remain free with impunity. They came to my house and killed him. There were five FAES agents ».

“Five FAES agents came to my house and killed him,” recalls Ivón Parra, mother of Guillermo José Parra, executed at age 20

According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, more than 70% of those executed by the FAES, created by Maduro in 2016, are humble young people who live in popular neighborhoods. The UN High Commissioner, Michelle bachelet, has demanded that Maduro eliminate the death squads and extermination groups of the FAES, but they continue to operate as an elite police unit.

Carmen Elena Arroyo Marble, mother of Cristian Alfredo Charris Arroyo, 26, assured that his son, who was a barber, father of three children, was killed by 20 FAES agents on September 24, 2018, when they intercepted him in the Dolorita neighborhood in Petare and “shot him in the chest . My case continues to be filed frozen in the impunity of the Venezuelan Prosecutor’s Office. I am looking for peace and justice », he concludes to ABC.

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