Three National Guard Officials Arrested After Fatal Shooting of Protester

Three Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) soldiers have been arrested following the fatal shooting of an anti-government protester in Caracas this past Monday.

By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas
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Three GNB sergeants will be charged for their responsibility in the death of a protester this past Monday. (Aporrea)
Three GNB sergeants will be charged for their responsibility in the death of a protester this past Monday. (Aporrea)

Caracas, June 21, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) Three Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) soldiers have been arrested following the fatal shooting of an anti-government protester in Caracas this past Monday.

First sergeant Raymon Ávila León and second sergeants Johan Rojas Díaz and Jesús Baez Rojas will be charged with the misuse of a firearm, according to national ombudsman, William Saab.

On Monday, 17 year old Fabian Urbina died from gunshot wounds when GNB soldiers opened fire on a crowd of protesters in the eastern district of Altamira. Five other demonstrators were also injured in the incident.

In footage of the confrontation circulated by the private media channel La Patilla on social media, hundreds of violent protesters can be seen attempting to attack several GNB officials prior to the shooting. At least one of the protesters was armed, leading some pro-government observers to speculate that the soldiers were acting in self defense. 

But Saab condemned the incident Wednesday and stated that the national guard must only employ “proportional, progressive and differentiated use of force” to ensure their own safety at protests. 

In a series of tweets, the national ombudsman reminded the public that the GNB are banned from using live ammunition or rubber bullets to control unrest. He also called on opposition sectors to cease their violent protests. 

“We once again call on the organizers of demonstrations to carry them out peacefully and without the use of weapons,” he tweeted.  

Following the incident, President Nicolas Maduro replaced Antonio Benavides Torres as the commander of the National Bolivarian Guard. The former commander of the People’s Guard, Major General Sergio José Rivero Marcano, will now take up the position.  

The president also changed the commander-in-chiefs of the armed forces, navy, airforce, and people’s militia, as well as put Major General Juan de Jesús García Toussaintt and Admiral Orlando Maneiro Gaspar in charge of the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Fishing. 

It is unknown if the high level reshuffle was related to Monday’s deadly shooting.  

Eighty-four people have been killed since violence anti-government unrest broke out at the beginning of April. Protesters, national security personnel, pro-government activists and passersby are all amongst the dead.