Venezuela’s government said it will investigate the death of a navy captain who was being held on charges of treason, sedition and attempted assassination of President Nicolas Maduro.
Captain Rafael Acosta Arevalo, 49, was arrested Wednesday along with three other soldiers and two police officials, joining dozens of people detained since an April 30 uprising against Maduro.
Officials said the prisoner died about 1 a.m. Saturday at a Ministry of Defense hospital in Caracas and didn’t give the cause of death, Acosta Arevalo’s lawyer, Alonso Medina, said in a telephone interview. The government acknowledged the death and ordered an investigation, according to an Information Ministry statement.
Regional organization Lima Group and Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, both called the death an assassination, with the Lima Group adding that Acosta Arevalo had shown signs of torture.
In a hearing to impose charges on Friday morning, Acosta Arevalo was seen using a wheelchair, with his face bruised and his nails marked with blood, Medina said.
Judge Maikel Amezquita Pion suspended the hearing and remitted the captain to Fuerte de Tiuna Hospital, which is inside a military facility in midtown Caracas.
The U.S. “condemns the killing and torture” of Acosta Arevalo while in the custody of “Maduro’s thugs and Cuban advisers,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Sunday.
Over 200 military officials have been detained by the government in recent months, according to National Assembly President Juan Guaido.
The April 30 failed uprising was led by Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez, Guaido’s mentor and a political prisoner who fled house arrest for protection at the Spanish ambassador’s residence.
Guaido, who’s recognized by about 50 nations including the U.S. as the leader of the country, said that the captain “was killed after being brutally tortured” and that torture is being applied by government officials and “even foreigners.”