Venezuela Issues Arrest Warrants for 15 Soldiers Tied to Fatal Shooting

Fifteen GNB troops have been accused of involvement in the death of opposition demonstrator Gruseny Antonio Canelón. (Archive)

By RYAN MALLETT-OUTTRIM of venezuelanalysis.com

Puebla, Mexico, April 21, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) — Venezuelan authorities have ordered the arrest of a group of soldiers accused of involvement in the fatal shooting of an opposition protester.

Issued by a court in the western state of Lara, the warrants were issued for 15 National Guard (GNB) personnel, including captain Wilfredo Pirela, first sergeant Orangel Morán, third sergeant Pastor Oviedo and second sergeants Jackson García, Ali Meléndez and Yomar Pérez.

The arrest warrants were issued on April 18, but were only made public Thursday, after being verified by the opposition aligned prison monitor Foro Penal.

All 15 soldiers now face allegations of involvement in the killing of opposition demonstrator Gruseny Antonio Canelón. The 32-year-old protester died of organ failure on April 13, after being shot during a demonstration two days earlier.

The details of the shooting remain unclear, though the incident reportedly occurred after clashes broke out between anti-government protesters and the GNB in the town of Cabudare. At the time, opposition leaders condemned the killing, and blamed “armed pro-government collectives.” Ombudsperson Tarek William Saab has likewise condemned the killing, and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The ombudsman’s office has requested that those responsible for this vile murder be placed under the judge’s order immediately,” he stated.

Canelón’s death was among the first fatalities in the latest wave of anti-government violence to grip Venezuela. The violence began in early April, amid protests over a Supreme Court decision to assume legislative power. The decision was quickly reversed, but not before infuriating the opposition, with many on Venezuela’s right viewing the move as an attempted power grab by President Nicolás Maduro.

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This story was originally published on April 21, 2017 on Venezuelanalysis.com

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