Venezuelan troops face torture probe

Caracas -

Venezuela is investigating nearly 100 armed forces and police staff for alleged torture during more than two months of ongoing deadly anti-government protests, authorities said on Sunday.

A university student shouts to fellow protesters not to attack the Bolivarian National Guards trapped under the highway with demonstrators on both sides during clashes in Caracas, Venezuela. Picture: Fernando Llano. Credit: Associated Press

The military's strategic command chief, Vladimir Padrino, admitted that security forces had committed “excesses” in recent days.

“We are able to say that 97 are being investigated by prosecutors for cruelty, for torture,” he told Venevision television.

Padrino stressed that this was less than one percent of the 92 000 military and police “who are facing pressure and violence (defending) the government from an ongoing coup d'etat attempt”.

President Nicolas Maduro's leftist elected government, with its heavily state-led economy, has blamed the United States, Colombian conservatives and Venezuelan “fascists” for the toughest opposition actions it has faced.

Nearly daily protests began in early February against rampant street crime, soaring inflation, poor job prospects and shortages of such essential goods as milk and toilet paper.

They have left 41 dead and more than 650 wounded, and prompted accusations of human rights violations by police. - Sapa-AFP