Slain Venezuelan protester's father makes emotional appeal to Maduro

David Vallenilla, 22, was killed after being shot at close range by a military police sergeant, apparently with rubber bullets.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The moment David Vallenilla was shot by a military police sergeant through a fence on July 22, 2016.

A man describing himself as a former boss and friend of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday urged an investigation into the killing of his son in anti-government unrest convulsing the OPEC nation for nearly three months.

David Vallenilla, 22, was shot at close range by a military police sergeant on Thursday, apparently with rubber bullets, as youths tried to pull down the fence around an air force base in Caracas and threw rocks at officials who had fired tear gas from inside.

Maduro's critics said the killing was further evidence of abuse by security forces after protests since April by demonstrators demanding general elections to end 18 years of socialist rule in the South American country amid a deepening economic and political crisis.

TRT World's Ben Tornquist reports.

At least 75 people have been killed in the protests so far, according to an official count on Friday.

The victims include Vallenilla and another youth killed on Monday near the same base. In both incidents, soldiers were caught on camera with guns pointing at the protesters.

"I want to speak to my former colleague of the Caracas Metro, Nicolas Maduro, you know that we worked together, I'm Supervisor Vallenilla ... I was your boss," said the slain protester's father, also named David Vallenilla, referring to the years when Maduro worked as a bus driver.

"I want to make sure this is resolved Nicolas, please, he wasn't a criminal, he was a graduating student ... please friend," the elder Vallenilla told reporters outside a morgue as tears streamed down his face. "You met him when he was little."

Maduro, who makes frequent reference to his former job as a bus driver to highlight his working-class roots, calls the protests an effort to violently remove him from office with the backing of ideological adversaries in Washington.

However, the president condemned the latest "painful" deaths and ordered a newly promoted general to make sure that "nobody else falls."

Speaking at a Friday event where he gave new positions to several military officials, Maduro said, "The use of firearms is prohibited and I ratify the prohibition."

Defense Minister Nestor Reverol had earlier offered an unusually swift condemnation of Vallenilla's shooting by a military officer, and state ombudsman Tarek Saab called it a "vile murder."

Source: 
Reuters