Venezuela charges three teens in stabbing deaths of soldiers

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  March 23, 2017 at 11:59 AM
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March 23 (UPI) -- The Venezuelan government said it has detained five minors, three of whom are teenagers, in connection to the stabbing death of two soldiers.

National Bolivarian Armed Forces soldiers Yohan Miguel Borrero Escalo, 25, and Andrés José Ortiz, 23, were killed Sunday morning in Caracas.

Three adolescents -- aged 14, 15 and 17 -- were arrested "for their alleged responsibility for the death of the sergeants of the Bolivarian Army," the Public Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. The teens face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years but they would serve five years if they confess.

The teenagers are charged with qualified homicide in the execution of a theft. Two children -- aged 8 and 12 -- who were also detained and who are immune to prosecution due to their age will be housed in the Infant Care House in Caracas' Libertador municipality under the supervision of the Council for the Protection of Children and Adolescents.

However, the Venezuelan government is not required under law to house the children if family members claim them.

Jorge Luis Gaviria, who has a doctorate in Venezuelan legal sciences, told El Universal that what the children committed are legally considered "serious faults" because they do not have criminal responsibility. He said the children should be cared for in specialized centers where they should receive help from social workers and psychiatrists.

Gaviria said the Venezuelan government does not have the infrastructure to deal with such cases.

"They should be hospitalized for re-education, but it is not mandatory either," Gaviria said. "They could have them there while they have a treatment, but they have to give them to their relatives."

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