Friday, February 24, 2017

Venezuela recognizes responsibility in case of Johan Ortiz Hernandez

Nineteen year old Johan Alexis Ortiz Hernandez was killed on February 15, 1998 at the National Guard Training School in Tachira, Venezuela. He was participating in combat training simulation exercises in which real bullets were used although they were supposedly banned from use in such exercises. The petitioners also contended that there were no safety measures in place nor medical assistance available to treat emergencies at the location where the combat training exercise was held. The petitioners further alleged that Johan Alexis “was tortured, clandestinely, after being mortally wounded, with beatings, dislocation of his shoulder, while he was in the throes of death, cigarette burns” and that he did not receive the immediate medical care he needed, but was transferred instead with delay to a rural hospital, where he ultimately died.

Seventeen years later, on February 9, 2017, during a public hearing on the case (Caso Ortiz Hernandez v. Venezuela) before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the parents of Johan Alexis testified about their efforts to seek justice and learn the truth about how their son died. The Venezuelan State recognized before the Inter-American Court that the deprivation of the life of Johan Alexis had been arbitrary and apologized to the parents for the acts of the state agents that caused the death of their son. In addition, Venezuela requested that the Court "render a minute of silence as homage to this humble and valiant young man who aspired to enter the Armed Forces to serve his country."

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