UN calls for independent inquiry into Venezuelan PM’s death

The Venezuelan government says Raul Baduel, who served as defense minister under Hugo Chavez, has died of coronavirus.

The UN human rights office has called on Venezuela to conduct an “independent investigation” into the death of imprisoned former minister Raul Badoul, a prominent dissident whom the country’s opposition considers a political prisoner.

The office, headed by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, said on Twitter on Wednesday that “we are deeply saddened by the death of Raoul Badoul in custody.”

“We urge #Venezuela to take all necessary steps to ensure an independent investigation, to ensure that detainees have access to healthcare, to consider alternative measures of detention and to release all detainees arbitrarily.”

Badoul was arrested in 2009 after joining the Socialist Party on corruption charges in 2009, was eventually placed under house arrest, and then re-imprisoned in 2017 on charges of conspiracy against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

A retired general, he served as Venezuela’s defense minister under former President Hugo Chavez. But the relationship broke down after Badoul argued against Chavez’s proposed constitutional reform.

Badu’s two sons have also been arrested on charges of conspiracy.

Raউলl Emilio Baduel has since been released but Josner Adolfo Baduel, who is accused of taking part in a failed sea attack in May 2020 known as “Operation Gideon” aimed at ousting Maduro.

The country’s attorney general announced Baduel’s death on Tuesday, saying he had died as a result of the coronavirus.

But Tareq Saab did not say He was in hospital or prison when he died. Baduel was detained at a Sebin detective police site.

Badoul served as defense minister under former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. [File: Jenny Fung/AFP]

“We are saddened by the heart-respiratory failure of Raoul Isaiah Badoul, the product of Covid-1 of, although he was receiving the relevant medical care and receiving the first dose of the vaccine,” Saab said in a Twitter post.

Baduel’s family said they received news of his death via Twitter.

“I haven’t received a call from anyone in the government,” his wife, Cruz Zambrano de Baduel, told EVTV. She added that she suspected that her husband, whom she last saw four weeks ago, had contracted the Covid-1 contract.

Human rights groups have blamed the government for his death.

“With the death of Raul Isaiah Badoul, there are ten political prisoners who have died in custody,” Foro panel lawyer Gonzalo Himeo said on Twitter.

“The responsibility for the life and health of any prisoner rests with the state.”

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