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Venezuela admits military excesses during deadly protests

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Venezuela’s military has admitted it committed “some excesses” during weeks of political unrest that have left 41 people dead.

The military’s strategic command chief, General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, said they were investigating 97 officers and police staff for “cruelty and torture”.

However, Vladimir Padrino Lopez stressed these were less than 1% of all officers.

Security forces have been accused of human rights abuse during the almost daily anti-government protests.

“We are able to say that 97 [officers] are being investigated by prosecutors for cruelty, for torture,” Gen. Vladimir Padrino Lopez said.


General Vladimir Padrino Lopez insists the security forces of President Nicolas Maduro respect the rule of law

General Vladimir Padrino Lopez insists the security forces of President Nicolas Maduro respect the rule of law

“That represents only 0.4% of the force,” he told Venevision television.

The protests have left at least 41 people killed and hundreds more injured on both sides.

The Venezuelan opposition and human rights activists accuse the security forces of repression and using heavy-handed tactics.

However, Vladimir Padrino Lopez insisted the security forces were acting “in accordance with the rule of law”.

“No soldiers have received orders to hurt anyone, harass or end the life of a Venezuelan,” he said.

On Thursday, President Nicolas Maduro met opposition leaders in crisis talks aimed at quelling more than two months of protests.

The demonstrations began over high levels of crime, rising inflation and shortages of basic foods, but have since grown into a wide opposition movement.

Venezuela remains sharply divided between supporters and opponents of Nicolas Maduro, who narrowly beat his bitter rival, opposition leader Henrique Capriles to the presidency last year.

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