The Venezuelan government says Raul Baduel, a former security minister led by Hugo Chavez, has died of coronavirus.
The United Nations Office for Human Rights has urged Venezuela to conduct an “independent inquiry” into the death of former prime minister Raul Baduel, a prominent opposition activist who is seen as a political prisoner by the country’s opposition.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Raul Baduel in prison,” the office, led by UN Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, said on Twitter on Wednesday.
“We call on #Venezuela to conduct an independent investigation, take the necessary steps to provide medical care to detainees, consider alternative detention and release all detainees at random.”
🇻🇪 We are deeply saddened by the death of Raul Baduel in prison. Please #Venezuela Ensuring that in self-examination, doing all that is necessary to assist in accessing medical care for detainees, considering alternative detention methods and freeing all inmates at random.
– UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) August 13, 2021
Baduel was arrested in 2009 on corruption charges in a dispute with the Socialist Party, which eventually led to his arrest and re-imprisonment in 2017 on suspicion of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The retired General, served as Venezuelan Defense Minister under former President Hugo Chavez. But the relationship between the two later deteriorated after Baduel argued over a legal change offered by Chavez.
Two of Baduel’s children have also been arrested for treason.
Raul Emilio Baduel has been released but Josnars Adolfo Baduel remains in jail, charged with participating in a failed military operation in May 2020 called “Operation Gideon” with the aim of overthrowing Maduro.
The country’s attorney general announced Baduel’s death on Tuesday, saying he had died of coronavirus infection.
But Tarek Saab did not say he was hospitalized or imprisoned after his death. Baduel had been detained at a smart police station in Sebin.
“We are saddened by the death of Raul Isaias Baduel from respiratory failure, COVID-19, although he is receiving the same standard of care and receiving the first vaccine,” Saab said on his Twitter account.
The Baduel family said they had heard of his death via Twitter.
“I have not received any phone calls from anyone in the government,” his wife, Cruz Zambrano de Baduel, told EVTV. She also expressed suspicion that her husband, whom she had last seen four weeks ago, had taken COVID-19.
Human rights groups have blamed the government for the killings.
“With the death of Raul Isaias Baduel there are ten political prisoners who have died in prison,” Gonzalo Himiob, a lawyer for Foro Penal, a legal aid organization that provides legal aid, said on Twitter.
“The responsibility for the life and health of every prisoner rests with the government.”