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2 soldiers accused in massacre not detained, Venezuelan prosecutor says

By Andrew V. Pestano
2 soldiers accused in massacre not detained, Venezuelan prosecutor says
Luisa Ortega Díaz, Venezuela's chief prosecutor, said two soldiers accused of participation in a massacre have not yet been arrested. The bodies of a dozen young people were found recently, and were revealed to be the 12 civilians who were reported missing from the city of Barlovento after an anti-crime security operation. Photo courtesy of Luisa Ortega Díaz

CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Venezuela's chief prosecutor said two soldiers accused of being involved in the Barlovento massacre in which 12 innocent young civilians were killed have not yet been detained.

"For the events that occurred in Barlovento, 10 officers of the army will be presented to court," Luisa Ortega Díaz said during an interview with Venevisión on Wednesday. "The apprehension of two other military personnel allegedly involved in these events is still pending."

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A dozen decomposing corpses, believed to be 12 missing youths who disappeared in October after a Liberation of the People, or OLP, security operation in the Miranda state's city of Barlovento, were found this weekend -- most in a mass grave -- in a mountainous area of the Acevedo municipality.

Ortega Díaz said the victims killed did not have criminal records, adding that they were detained "without any form of judgment." She revealed that an additional victim was tortured during the incidents.

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The killings of the young civilians has led to sharp criticism of President Nicolas Maduro's Liberation of the People, or OLP, nationwide security operation, which was created to combat Venezuela's high rates of crime and homicide.

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Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly, with the support of Maduro's ruling party members, on Tuesday unanimously voted to "condemn the forced disappearance and murder of several citizens by military personnel" in the Barlovento massacre.

Jesus "Chuo" Torrealba, leader of the Venezuelan opposition, previously said what occurred during the OLP operation in Barlovento is a " terrible situation" that is not an "isolated act," adding that it shows that Venezuela's "honest citizen is killed by the underworld or killed by operations like the OLP."

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Ortega Díaz said the investigation into the incident continues. She said OLP operations must be "carried out to combat crime" but added that such security acts "can not develop in a compulsive manner, in a violent manner against a population and, above all, against the most vulnerable and defenseless."

Venezuela's Public Ministry initially said 11 members of the national army would be charged.

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