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Venezuelan Navy Captain Accused of Rebellion Dies After Signs of Torture



CARACAS – A Venezuelan Navy captain accused by the government of plotting a rebellion has a week after his arrest, underlining President Nicolás Maduro's increasingly ferocious repression campaign amid a spiraling economic crisis.

The captain, Rafael Acosta, is the first of more than 100 active and retired Venezuelan officers jailed by the government on treason charges to the custody of allegations or torture.

A military judge duty Captain Acosta's legal team on Saturday that the officer had died in a military hospital The previous night, Alonso Medina Roa, said his lawyer. Captain Acosta was detained on June 21

and charged with treason and conspiring to rebel. He denied the charges.

Mr. Medina Roa said the captain had been detained in good health but was in a wheelchair when he was brought into a courthouse on Friday. The lawyer said his client was struggling to speak or move, showing visible signs of beatings, and kept repeating the word "help" to his legal team.

He was taken to a hospital from the courthouse and died hours later, the lawyer

Venezuela's information minister, Jorge Rodríguez, a close adviser to Mr. Maduro, confirmed Captain Acosta's death on Saturday night and asked the country's attorney general to investigate the "unfortunate event," without providing details.

The head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, condemned the captain's death, adding in a message on Twitter that "the crimes of Nicolás Maduro won't be left unpunished." Captain Acosta was one of half a dozen forms and active officers who had been detained in the past week on allegations of plotting to overthrow Mr. Maduro. On Wednesday, Mr. Rodríguez presented a video purporting to show Captain Acosta discussing coup plans on a conference call.

Mr. Maduro has survived one coup and one assassination attempt in the past two years, as the country's economic collapse has weakened his grip on power.

Last year, a detained opposition City Council member in Caracas, Fernando Albán Salazar, fell to his death from a window during his interrogation by intelligence officers. The government claimed it was a suicide.

Mr. Acosta was detained on the day that Mr. Maduro with Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations human rights commissioner, in Caracas. After the meeting, Ms. Bachelet said she had agreed with the government to evaluate its anti-torture policies.

Her office did not immediately respond to a request for news following Captain Acosta's death.

His wife, Waleswka Pérez, told local reporters that her husband had done nothing beyond discussion in family circles Venezuela's economic crisis and chronic corruption. She said she had not seen her husband since his detention.


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