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Six more Venezuelan soldiers arrested over Barlovento massacre

By Andrew V. Pestano
Venezuela's Public Ministry, led by chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz, said six more Venezuelan soldiers -- 18 total -- have been arrested over the deaths of 13 people in the case now known as the Barlovento massacre. The soldiers are charged with crimes including homicide and torture. Photo courtesy Luisa Ortega Díaz
Venezuela's Public Ministry, led by chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz, said six more Venezuelan soldiers -- 18 total -- have been arrested over the deaths of 13 people in the case now known as the Barlovento massacre. The soldiers are charged with crimes including homicide and torture. Photo courtesy Luisa Ortega Díaz

CARACAS, Venezuela, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Venezuela's Public Ministry on Friday revealed six more soldiers are under arrest over alleged involvement in the deaths of 13 people in the case known as the Barlovento massacre.

Twelve of the victims were killed between Oct. 16 and Oct. 19 while a teenager was detained and tortured to death between Nov. 25 and Nov. 26, the Public Ministry said. The incidents occurred in the Barlovento region's Acevedo municipality.

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"In response to investigations coordinated by the Public Prosecutor's Office and the arrest warrants requested from the corresponding courts, a total of 18 Bolivarian National Army personnel have been deprived of their liberty for their alleged responsibility for the disappearance and death of 12 people, and a teenager," the Public Ministry said in a statement.

The soldiers, which includes high-ranking officers, are charged with crimes such as homicide, torture, inhuman treatment, forced disappearance of persons and improper use of weapons.

A dozen decomposing corpses, believed to be 12 people, including youths, who disappeared in October after a Liberation of the People, or OLP, security operation, were found late November -- most in a mass grave in mountainous terrain.

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Venezuela's Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz previously said the victims killed did not have criminal records, adding that they were detained "without any form of judgment."

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

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