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Rafael Acosta Arévalo

Rafael Ramón Acosta Arévalo (16 June 1969 – 29 June 2019)[1][2] was a Venezuelan military officer with the rank of corvette captain of the Armed Forces.[3] Acosta Arévalo was victim of forced disappearance and tortured by agents of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) during his detention after being accused by the government of Nicolás Maduro of "conspiring to carry out an attempted coup d'état". Acosta Arévalo died as a result of injuries suffered while in detention in the Military Hospital of the Army Dr. Vicente Salias Sanoja.[4][5][6][7] The news of his death caused great impact in the media and the condemnation of both national and international authorities.[8]

Rafael Acosta Arévalo
Born
Rafael Ramón Acosta Arévalo

(1969-06-16)16 June 1969
Died29 June 2019(2019-06-29) (aged 50)
Caracas, Venezuela
NationalityVenezuelan
EducationMilitary Academy of the Bolivarian Navy
OccupationMilitary officer
Spouse(s)Waleswka Pérez
Children2

Personal lifeEdit

Acosta Arévalo resided in Maracay. He graduated from the Military Academy of the Bolivarian Navy, where he obtained his rank of ensign in the component of the Bolivarian Navy, of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces.[9] He was married to Waleswka Pérez and was the father of two children.[10][11]

DeathEdit

Detention and tortureEdit

On 22 June 2019, Acosta Arévalo's wife denounced his disappearance and stated that he had spoken with him for the last time at 2:00 p.m. of the previous day, while he was in a "personal meeting" in Guatire, Miranda.[12]

On that day, officials from the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) and the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) detained seven people, including active and retired military and police officers. Among the detainees were two retired colonels, a brigadier general of the aviation, a lieutenant colonel of the Army, two retired commissaries of the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigation Corps (CICPC) and a corvette captain of the Navy, Acosta Arévalo. On 26 July, after six days without knowing his whereabouts, Acosta Arévalo's arrest was announced by Minister for Communication and Information Jorge Rodríguez, who accused three of them, including Captain Acosta Arévalo, of committing "the crimes of terrorism, conspiracy and treason". According to the government, the accused were preparing a coup that "included the death of Nicolás Maduro and Diosdado Cabello."[7][13]

On 28 June, Acosta Arévalo was transferred by a DGCIM commission to the headquarters of the military court to hold his presentation hearing, where he arrived in a wheelchair with serious indications of torture. DGCIM officials prevented Acosta Arévalo's interview with his lawyers from being private. Acosta Arévalo presented many excoriations in the arms, little sensitivity in the hands, extreme inflammation in the feet, traces of blood in the nails, and injuries in the torso. Acosta Arévalo was also unable to move his hands or feet, to get up or to speak, with the exception of accepting the appointment of his defender and asking his lawyer for help.[14]

The judge ordered that Acosta Arévalo be transferred to the Army Military Hospital Dr. Vicente Salias Sanoja, located in Fort Tiuna in Caracas,[5][6][15] upon observing his critical physical condition and his presentation hearing was postponed. Later, the judge of the case reported that Acosta Arévalo had died at night in the hospital.[14][16]

After news of Acosta Arévalo's death and the circumstances surrounding it were made public, it was reported that "DGCIM" could not be entered as a hashtag on Twitter, reportedly having been blocked.[17]

InvestigationsEdit

The government of Nicolás Maduro did not provide a cause of death but announced an investigation on the matter.[18] The Maduro government issued statements following the death of Acosta Arévalo with different contradictions.[19] Jorge Rodríguez announced that Acosta Arévalo's death occurred "during the presentation ceremony in front of the competent court". The attorney general appointed by the Maduro-aligned Constituent National Assembly, Tarek William Saab, said that Acosta Arévalo "was being brought before the court" when he lost consciousness, and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said Acosta Arévalo fainted before the hearing began.[19] Diosdado Cabello dismissed the possibility of an independent investigation, expressing "we trust in our justice", calling the Public Ministry to begin an investigation and mentioning that "whoever has responsibility in the case must assume it".[20]

According to the president of the NGO Control Ciudadano, Rocío San Miguel, "Captain Acosta Arévalo died innocent, since never since his arrest was he formally charged by the Venezuelan state, who violated the most basic constitutional guarantees of due process."[19][21]

The attorney general in exile, Luisa Ortega Díaz, issued a statement in which she states that she appointed a multidisciplinary team to clarify the death, to determine the responsibility of the authors and impose the corresponding sanctions.[22] According to exiled former prosecutor Zair Mundaray, who said he had been briefed on the autopsy findings by members of the judiciary with access to the report, Acosta had sixteen fractured ribs, eight on each side, fracture of the nasal septum, excoriations in shoulders, elbows, and knees, hematomas in the inner thigh and both extremities, whip-like injuries in the back and thighs, a fractured foot, multiple abrasions and signs of small burns in both feet which suggested that electric shocks had been used.[23][24]

According to the preliminary autopsy report, the cause of death was severe cerebral edema due to acute respiratory failure, leading to pulmonary thromboembolism, the product of rhabdomyolysis due to widespread polytrauma[25][26][27] — lack of brain function after multiple physical injuries.

The Public Prosecutor's Office charged two officials assigned to the Directorate General of Military Intelligence (DGCIM), Lieutenant Ascanio Antonio Tarascio and Sergeant Estiben Zarate, and requested their preventive detention as suspects.[28] The officers were charged with the crime of "pre-intentional concausal homicide", which has a maximum penalty of nine years in prison. Gonzalo Himiob, vice-president of Foro Penal, denounced that a pre-intentional concausal homicide supposes that the death of the person was caused by executing intentional acts with the intention of injuring them, not killing them, and that defining as a common crime any act that is a serious violation to the human rights is a "strategy aimed at distorting the truth and seeking impunity for those responsible" and to qualify homicide as "concausal" implies that the death would not have taken place without the presence of pre-existing or unexpected conditions or situations unknown by the murderer, or unforeseen events, which would have not depended on their actions.[29] Former ombudswoman Gabriela Ramírez regretted that the country's Law against Torture was not applied and that the plan developed in her administration was discarded, of which she blamed her successor, Tarek William Saab.[30]

Controlled burialEdit

Acosta Arévalo's corpse spent twelve days in the Bello Monte Morgue [es] guarded by the police and later buried in the Eastern Cemetery [es], in Caracas. The Bolivarian National Police closed the access to the cemetery and the authorities conducted a controlled burial similar to that of Óscar Pérez, in a sealed coffin and against the will of his relatives, whose will is for his remains to be buried in Maracay, Aragua, where most of the family resides.[31][32][33]

The same day, security officers raided the residence of Arévalo's parents-in-law in Maracay.[34]

ReactionsEdit

The European Union called for a "complete and independent" investigation into the death of Acosta Arévalo, considering that the case highlights "the arbitrary nature of the judicial system and the lack of guarantees and rights" for detainees in Venezuela.[35][36] The Lima Group, made up of 14 countries in the Americas, repudiated the captain's death in a statement, calling it a "murder".[35][36] The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, demanded "truth and justice for the murder" of Acosta Arévalo, and directly blamed "the dictatorship."[35]

The United States considered the case as "a grim example" of "how far it goes the persecution against Maduro's adversaries."[35] Germany declared that the death of Acosta Arévalo "is an obstacle to a negotiated solution in Venezuela".[37] France condemned Acosta Arévalo's death and called for an "independent investigation" to clarify the circumstances in which it occurred.[38] In Colombia, President Iván Duque strongly rejected the death of the captain, declaring that "the world must put an end to that dictatorship".[39] The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, mentioned after what happened with the death of Acosta Arévalo, that "something happened and we want to know." He also asked for a clear investigation on the matter.[40] The Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs expressed concern about the death of Acosta Arévalo.[41]

Acosta Arévalo's wife, Venezuelan human rights advocates, Juan Guaidó and the US Department of State accused Maduro's government of torturing the captain to death.[16] A statement from the internal policy committee of the National Assembly reported that the legislative body would request the International Criminal Court and the United Nations to investigate the death of the captain. Guaidó, President of the National Assembly and disputed interim President of Venezuela, described the event as "abominable" and declared that immediate contact was established with the family and the United Nations commission, which instructed both the appointed ambassadors and representatives abroad to file a complaint with foreign governments and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and that information would continue to be collected on Acosta Arévalo's death.[12]

Deputy Delsa Solórzano sent a statement to Bachelet demanding compliance with the Minnesota Protocol, a model procedure recommended by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate crimes against humanity, in the case that illegal executions were committed, and which is aimed at preventing state officials suspected of having committed the crimes from acting or influencing the investigation.[42] Opposition leaders such as Julio Borges and Antonio Ledezma also condemned the death.[12]

Due to the death of the captain, the delegation of Guaidó in negotiations with the Maduro government suspended their trip to the third round of talks.[43] On 2 July 2019, Acosta Arévalo was posthumously promoted to frigate captain by Guaidó in representation of the National Assembly.[44]

The NGO PROVEA asked the technical team in Venezuela of Bachelet that Maduro give an explanation for the death of Acosta Arévalo.[45] The Comité de Familiares de las Víctimas (COFAVIC, "Committee of Relatives of Victims") issued an statement expressing its deep concern over the death of Acosta Arévalo, arguing that "torture is designed with the deliberate purpose of frighten".[46]

Days later, the head of the Armed Forces high command, Remigio Ceballos, assured that the captain "died while in custody" and that he had conspired against the state for more than ten years. However, the official mentioned that "the entire FANB regrets the events related to the loss of the retired officer".[47]

On 30 June, a floral wreath with the message "We join the pain of the Armed Forces: We demand justice" was left outside the General Command of the Navy, in Caracas.[48] The wreath and other floral offerings were rejected and kicked by military men who guarded the command.[49]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Acosta Arevalo Rafael Ramon - Edo. Amazonas - Venezuela" (in Spanish). Dateas. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  2. ^ Singer, Florantonia (1 July 2019). "Muere el militar detenido por conspirar contra Maduro" [Military man arrested for conspiring against Maduro dies]. El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Archived from the original on 30 June 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  3. ^ "Ministro Padrino López informó la muerte del Capitán Rafael Acosta Arévalo" [Minister Padrino López reported the death of Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo]. Noticiero Venevisión (in Spanish). 29 June 2019. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Guaidó firmó ascenso postmortem de Rafael Acosta Arévalo a capitán de fragata" [Guaidó signed post-mortem promotion of Rafael Acosta Arévalo to frigate captain]. Crónica (in Spanish). 2 July 2019. Archived from the original on 11 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Periodista Eligio Rojas publicó supuesto extracto de autopsia de Acosta Arévalo" [Journalist Eligio Rojas published supposed autopsy extract of Acosta Arévalo]. Noticiero Digital (in Spanish). 2 July 2019. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Rafael Acosta Arévalo: fiscalía pide el arresto de dos oficiales por muerte del capitán acusado de conspirar contra Maduro" [Rafael Acosta Arévalo: Prosecutors request the arrest of two officers for the death of the captain accused of conspiring against Maduro] (in Spanish). BBC Mundo. 1 July 2019. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Agentes de la inteligencia de Maduro mataron a golpes al capitán Acosta" [Agents of Maduro's intelligence beat captain Acosta to death]. ABC (in Spanish). 4 July 2019. Archived from the original on 9 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  8. ^ "EE.UU. condena a Maduro por la muerte del capitán de corbeta Rafael Acosta Arévalo" [US condemns Maduro for the death of corvette captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo]. Voice of America (in Spanish). 1 July 2019. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  9. ^ Souquett, Mariana (1 July 2019). "Familia del capitán Rafael Acosta Arévalo exige entrega de su cuerpo" [Family of Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo demands delivery of his body]. Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 8 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Esposa del Capitan Rafael Acosta Arévalo pide a la ONU hacer examen forense" [Wife of Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo asks the UN to do forensic examination]. Panorama (in Spanish). 29 June 2019. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Esposa de Rafael Acosta dice que el régimen lo mató: "Mis hijos quedaron huérfanos de padre"" [Wife of Rafael Acosta says that the regime killed him: "My children were left orphaned of a father"]. El Comercio (in Spanish). 29 June 2019. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  12. ^ a b c "Un militar venezolano fue torturado y asesinado por agentes de la Contrainteligencia chavista" [A Venezuelan soldier was tortured and killed by agents of the Chavista counterintelligence]. Infobae (in Spanish). 29 June 2019. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Muerte del capitán de corbeta Rafael Acosta Arévalo reaviva crisis política" [Death of the captain of corvette Rafael Acosta Arévalo revives political crisis]. Supuesto Negado (in Spanish). 2 July 2019. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  14. ^ a b Bocaranda, Nelson (30 June 2019). "¿Acaso un segundo Albán? ¿Torturas en Dgcim provocaron la muerte al C.C. Acosta Arévalo?" [Maybe a second Albán? Torture in DGCIM caused death to C.C. Acosta Arévalo?]. Runrunes (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 9 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Rocío San Miguel detalla las implicaciones del asesinato de Rafael Acosta" [Rocío San Miguel details the implications of the murder of Rafael Acosta]. Venezuela Al Día (in Spanish). 29 June 2019. Archived from the original on 5 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  16. ^ a b Sequera, Vivian; Ellsworth, Brian (30 June 2019). "Venezuela confirms death of detained officer, his wife says he was tortured". Reuters. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  17. ^ "Palabra Dgcim desaparece en Twitter tras denuncias por la muerte del C/C Rafael Acosta Arévalo" [Word DGCIM disappears on Twitter after reports of the death of C/C Rafael Acosta Arévalo]. La Patilla (in Spanish). 29 June 2019. Archived from the original on 4 July 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Death of Venezuelan navy captain draws US condemnation". Associated Press. 30 June 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  19. ^ a b c "Las contradicciones del gobierno en la muerte del capitán Rafael Acosta Arévalo" [The contradictions of the government in the death of Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo]. Runrunes (in Spanish). 30 June 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  20. ^ "Cabello sobre caso del capitán Acosta: Cada quien asuma su responsabilidad, confiamos en nuestra justicia #3Jul" [Cabello on case of Captain Acosta: Everyone assumes responsibility, we trust in our justice #3Jul]. El Impulso (in Spanish). 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  21. ^ "Delito imputado a funcionarios de la DGCIM por muerte del capitán Acosta tiene una pena máxima de 9 años de prisión" [Offense attributed to DGCIM officials for the death of Captain Acosta has a maximum penalty of 9 years in prison]. Reporte Confidencial (in Spanish). 1 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  22. ^ "Ortega Díaz inicia investigación por asesinato del C/C Acosta Arévalo" [Ortega Díaz initiates investigation for the murder of C/C Acosta Arévalo]. La Patilla (in Spanish). 30 June 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  23. ^ Sanchez, Fabiola; Smith, Scott (12 July 2019). "Slain Venezuelan Navy captain was tortured, attorney says". Associated Press. Local10.com. Retrieved 15 July 2019. Zair Mundaray, an exiled former Venezuelan prosecutor, said Acosta suffered 16 broken ribs and burns on his feet that pointed to use of electric shocks. Mundaray said he was briefed on the autopsy findings by members of Venezuela's judiciary who had access to the report. The Associated Press could not verify the claims.
  24. ^ "Cadáver del capitán Acosta muestra 16 costillas rotas y quemaduras por posible electrocución" [Captain Acosta's corpse shows 16 broken ribs and burns from possible electrocution]. El Pitazo (in Spanish). 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  25. ^ "Autopsia al cadáver de Rafael Acosta Arévalo revela lesiones graves por posible golpiza" [Autopsy on the corpse of Rafael Acosta Arévalo reveals serious injuries due to possible beating]. Tal Cual (in Spanish). 2 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  26. ^ "Filtran autopsia del capitán Acosta Arévalo que confirma que fue torturado" [Leaked autopsy of Captain Acosta Arévalo, confirming that he was tortured]. El Nacional (in Spanish). 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  27. ^ Phillips, Tom (4 July 2019). "Venezuela: UN report accuses Maduro of 'gross violations' against dissenters". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  28. ^ "Fiscalía imputó a dos militares por muerte del capitán Acosta Arévalo" [Prosecutor's office charged two soldiers for the death of Captain Acosta Arévalo]. Panorama (in Spanish). 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  29. ^ "Delito imputado a funcionarios de la Dgcim por muerte del capitán Acosta tiene una pena máxima de 9 años de prisión" [Offense attributed to officials of the DGCIM for the death of Captain Acosta has a maximum penalty of 9 years in prison]. Sumarium (in Spanish). 1 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  30. ^ "Caso del capitán Acosta Arévalo revela que la Ley contra la Tortura es letra muerta" [Case of Captain Acosta Arévalo reveals that the Law against Torture is a dead letter]. Crónica Uno (in Spanish). 2 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  31. ^ "Hermana de Acosta Arévalo identificó el cuerpo y proceden a la inhumación controlada" [Sister of Acosta Arévalo identified the body and they proceeded to the controlled burial]. El Pitazo (in Spanish). 10 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  32. ^ "El régimen de Nicolás Maduro enterró el cuerpo del capitán Rafael Acosta Arévalo en un ataúd sellado y contra la voluntad de la familia" [The regime of Nicolás Maduro buried the body of Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo in a sealed coffin and against the will of the family]. Infobae (in Spanish). 10 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  33. ^ "Against family wishes, Venezuela government buries navy captain who died in captivity". Reuters. 10 July 2019. Archived from the original on 11 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  34. ^ "Allanaron residencia de los suegros del capitán Acosta Arévalo". Runrun.es. El Nacional. 11 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  35. ^ a b c d "Repudio internacional y llamados a la ONU tras muerte de militar detenido en Venezuela" [International repudiation and calls to the UN following the death of a military detainee in Venezuela]. El Heraldo (in Spanish). 30 June 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  36. ^ a b "Venezuela accused of killing naval officer". Deutsche Welle. 1 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  37. ^ "Portavoz alemán dice que deceso del C/C Acosta Arévalo es un obstáculo para una salida negociada en Venezuela" [German spokesman says that the death of C/C Acosta Arevalo is an obstacle to a negotiated exit in Venezuela]. Apunto en Línea (in Spanish). 1 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  38. ^ "Francia condenó muerte de Acosta Arévalo y reclamó una investigación" [France condemned the death of Acosta Arévalo and demanded an investigation]. El Nacional (in Spanish). 1 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  39. ^ "Iván Duque sobre muerte de C/C Acosta Arévalo: El mundo debe ponerle fin a esa dictadura" [Iván Duque on the death of C/C Acosta Arévalo: The world must put an end to that dictatorship]. La Patilla (in Spanish). 30 June 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  40. ^ "Borrell considera sospechosa muerte del capitán Rafael Acosta" [Borrell considers suspicious death of Captain Rafael Acosta]. Descifrado (in Spanish). 3 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  41. ^ "México expresó su preocupación por la muerte del capitán Rafael Acosta" [Mexico expressed concern over the death of Captain Rafael Acosta]. El Nacional (in Spanish). 1 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  42. ^ "Delsa Solórzano pide a Bachelet aplicar protocolo de Minnesota por caso del C/C Acosta Arévalo" [Delsa Solórzano asks Bachelet to apply the Minnesota Protocol for the case of C/C Acosta Arévalo]. El Carabobeño (in Spanish). 30 June 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  43. ^ Ayala Altuve, Dayimar (30 June 2019). "Muerte del capitán Acosta detonó la suspensión de nueva ronda de mediación" [Death of Captain Acosta detonated the suspension of the new round of mediation]. El Pitazo (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  44. ^ "Guaidó ascendió a capitán de fragata a Rafael Acosta Arévalo" [Guaidó promoted Rafael Acosta Arévalo to frigate captain]. El Nacional (in Spanish). 1 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  45. ^ "Provea pide al equipo de Bachelet en Venezuela qué Maduro de explicación sobre caso del C/C Rafael Acosta" [Provea asks Bachelet's team in Venezuela to explain the case of C/C Rafael Acosta]. La Patilla (in Spanish). 29 June 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  46. ^ "Cofavic emite comunicado por el caso del Capitán Rafael Acosta Arévalo" [Cofavic issues statement for the case of Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo]. Runrunes (in Spanish). 1 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  47. ^ "Alto oficial venezolano dice que capitán que murió tras torturas "conspiró" por 10 años" [High-ranking Venezuelan official says captain who died after torture "conspired" for 10 years]. El Comercio (in Spanish). 5 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  48. ^ "Corona en honor al C/C Acosta Arévalo es dejada en Comandancia General de la Armada" [Wreath in honor of the C/C Acosta Arévalo is left in the General Command of the Navy]. Diario 2001 (in Spanish). 30 June 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  49. ^ "Bota militar aparta ofrenda floral a Acosta Arévalo en la Comandancia de la Armada" [Military boot sets aside floral offering to Acosta Arévalo in the Navy Command]. El Pitazo (in Spanish). 2 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.