Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Luis Almagro Thursday pledged he would ask the United Nations to request the exhumation and autopsy of the late Venezuelan General Raúl Baduel, who died of COVID-19 while incarcerated by the Nicolás Maduro regime for alleged political crimes.
The United Nations has a mission on the ground and this autopsy is absolutely decisive in addressing this case, said Almagro. After Baduel's death earlier this week, his family demanded his body not be cremated.
Almagro's statement came after meeting at the OAS headquarters in Washington with the lawyer for the Baduel family, Omar Mora Tosta, and representatives of the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
Almagro said he would take the case before the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, whose office urged Caracas to guarantee an independent investigation into Baduel's death.
Baduel was Defense Minister under former President Hugo Chávez, whom he helped reinstate to power after the April 2002 failed coup. But in 2009, he was charged with corruption and taken to prison. After being released in 2015, he was again imprisoned in 2017 on charges of conspiracy against Maduro.
The release of all political prisoners is a moral, ethical, legal imperative and of all of us who seek democracy, said Almagro, while Mora Tosta insisted on the formation of an independent international committee to investigate Baduel's death. “What you want is to really establish the truth: what happened to General Baduel. And that this becomes a definitive fight for political prisoners to regain their full freedom, he said. Mora Tosta was skeptical Baduel had died of COVID-19, as claimed by the Maduro government.
Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab, Tuesday announced Baduel's demise saying he had died of a cardiorespiratory arrest as a result of covid-19 even after having received the first dose of the vaccine. He also insisted the inmate had received proper treatment for his ailments.
But Baduel's daughter, Andreína Baduel, denounced the regime murdered my beloved and brave father. In this scenario, Mora Tosta also said he would ask the IACHR for protection measures for the Baduel family, in particular for his son Josnars.
The Government of the United States also expressed interest in the Baduel case being clarified. “The recent death of Raúl Baduel reminds the world of the deplorable conditions faced by Venezuelan political prisoners. This, under the custody of the Maduro regime,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price. We ask for an independent examination to confirm the true cause of death, said the US official, who joined international calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Venezuela.
“Maduro, by holding these prisoners, assumes responsibility for their well-being. Their families deserve a credible and transparent review of the circumstances surrounding these deaths, as well as accountability for serious human rights violations, Price stressed.
In addition to Baduel's son Josnars Adolfo, another of his sons, Raúl Emilio was arrested on charges of conspiracy. He is now at large.