Who was Ronald Ojeda, a former Venezuelan military man who was kidnapped and murdered in Chile?

(CNN) — On February 21, at least three men dressed as Chilean Investigative Police (PDI) arrived with a device to force door jams into the apartment of Ronald Leandro Ojeda Moreno, a 32-year-old former Venezuelan military man who lived with his partner. A four-year-old son and a sister in the Independência commune in Santiago.

At 3:09 a.m. local time, the men – who had weapons, bulletproof vests and had their faces covered – took Ojeda out of his home against his will, tied him up and, wearing only underwear, drove him to an unknown address. But took away. This was seen in video from the building’s security cameras, which has been broadcast by several local media outlets and confirmed to CNN by the Ojeda family attorney Juan Carlos Manriquez.

The case of Ronald Ojeda began to attract public attention not only in Chile and Venezuela, but also in other countries in the region. On 21 February, the Chilean Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation in which authorities did not report the identity of the victim and kept it secret to protect her integrity. There was only discussion of “Venezuelan citizens”.

Nine days later, on March 1, a body was found in a suitcase buried under 1.4 meters of cement in the commune of Maipú, Santiago de Chile. Authorities confirmed it was Ronald Ojeda.

“This is a complex investigation involving organized crime and so we have carried out a series of procedures approximately 10 days after the kidnapping of the victim, Ronald Ojeda, which has led us to today’s result,” said the prosecutor in charge. Hector Barros gave information about the case in a press conference.

Undersecretary of the Interior Manuel Monsalve said in a public statement: “We regret the outcome of this case of extreme criminality and we reiterate our condolences to the family. From the first minute, the Government’s priority has been to support the investigation and proceedings to clarify this matter, identify those responsible and be able to impose the toughest sanctions.”

He also stressed that for the government of President Gabriel Boric “the fight against organized crime is a priority, but it requires state policies, the strength of all institutions and all political actors in the country.”

This method of hiding the dead body has been seen before in Chile. In the northern city of Arica, the so-called “Los Gallegos” clan – considered an operational branch of the Aragua train – has already committed at least two similar crimes in the region, specifically in Cerro Chuno, where illegal camps also exist. Are. There PDI found two bodies covered in concrete at a depth of one and a half meters, Arica regional prosecutor Mario Carrera told CNN.

For his part, Juan Carlos Manriquez, a lawyer for Ojeda’s widow, told CNN that no one asked for ransom in the days Ojeda was missing, nor was there any contact between the kidnappers and the ex-military’s family, who were “many more “Opens up” questions to be solved in this case.

Ojeda’s arrival in Chile

In December 2017, Spanish media ABC reported that Ojeda had escaped with other soldiers from the Ramo Verde prison in the Venezuelan city of Los Teces, where he had been held since March for an alleged “plot” against Nicolás’ government. Maduro. As the lawyer of Ronald Ojeda’s widow reported, the former military personnel then arrived in Chile.

Through his social networks, Ojeda himself – who has defined himself as a defender of freedom and a staunch opponent of Maduro – reported that he was kidnapped and held in the Venezuelan Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) in 2017. Was transferred. A political prisoner, I was tortured and intimidated. I know what it means to be a young, institutional and moral authority in a corrupt system. I send a message to political prisoners, a message of strength. I know that at the moment they are completely disappointed, but still, we have to find ourselves with great strength, with mental peace,” the former lieutenant said in a video published on his Instagram account in December. 16, 2022.

At the end of the same year, Ojeda published a video online showing him kneeling in front of the Palacio de la Moneda in Santiago, with his face covered with a sack bearing the initials “DGCIM” and a political symbol in Venezuela. There are posters demanding freedom for the prisoners. ,

By 2023, Chile had already granted him and his family political asylum. This was stated by the Secretary of the Interior, who assured – without specifying the exact date – that he himself had endorsed the document. At a press conference in February the authority said, “Mr. Ojeda was in a private immigration status, an immigration status that was granted by this government and which is signed by this Under Secretary. I request that we please be extremely responsible in this Become.” 26, where he asked the press to be careful with this information because it was a secret investigation.

In January 2024, the Venezuelan Defense Ministry declared Ojeda a “traitor to the country”, along with 32 others demoted and expelled from the armed forces, whom the Maduro regime accused of “involvement in conspiracies”. Planning criminal and terrorist actions to attack legitimately constituted government apparatus, state authorities and institutions.

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The Chilean Prosecutor’s Office reported that, according to expert testimony, Ronald Ojeda had died between 7 and 10 days after his body was found, a period that corresponds to the time when his whereabouts were unknown. The prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Hector Barros, said the cause of his death was “asphyxiation with the traction element”.

So far, only a 17-year-old Venezuelan citizen has been arrested for taking part in the crime, given his irregular status in the country. After his formal hearing this Monday, Prosecutor Barros explained that the court “fully established his involvement in the crime of kidnapping accompanied by murder, as well as the fact that there is an international organization that is linked to the crime.” Was working in this kidnapping.” ,

In addition to this minor, there are two other people who, according to Barros, “have been fully identified” and who “had a very significant involvement in these events.” The orders have been issued by the competent court, we are waiting for their implementation. “These men participated directly in the kidnapping inside the building in the victim’s apartment,” the authority said at a news conference.

Earlier, when the Chilean government confirmed the kidnapping of a former Venezuelan military officer, officials publicly announced that they were not ruling out any hypothesis. The Undersecretary of the Interior assured that Chile has asked Interpol to issue an alert and has ordered the strengthening of police and military security at the borders. Asked about the possibility that the kidnapping was carried out by Venezuelan forces, Monsalve responded that “it is completely premature to draw any conclusions.”

On February 29, a report published by Venezuelan media La Razón said that Chile gave the “green light” to Venezuelan authorities to deprive Ojeda of his freedom. The newspaper did not cite any source for this statement and the officials of the southern country have clearly denied it. “The effort that Chile has made to cooperate with Venezuela is to persecute organized crime, not to carry out political persecution,” Interior Minister Carolina Toha said in an interview with Tele13 radio.

Venezuelan media cited an agreement signed on January 18 this year between the southern country and Venezuela, which “seeks mutual cooperation to facilitate information within the scope of their respective national jurisdictions, specific powers and in compliance with their functions.” ” It is necessary to investigate crimes against people, violent crimes, cyber crimes and financial crimes, among other manifestations of organized crime.

From Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello, vice-president and vice president of the United Socialist Party, told in his television program “Con el Mallet Giving” that “When the President of Chile, (Sebastián) Piñera, came to the border to invade Venezuela, we in Chile had no The thing is to allow. Venezuela has nothing to do with that kidnapping, nothing at all, solve its own problems in Chile. “Continue to patronize gangsters, for which the Mafia itself accuses them.”

In response, Carolina Toha, the Minister of the Interior, said in a press conference that “What concerns us in Chile is to prosecute violent crimes and protect all victims, in all cases, in all hypotheses, and for this we use those tools. We use what the law gives us. We will stand firm and we will not let anyone distract us from our objective.”

For his part, Prosecutor Hector Barros explained that the Prosecutor’s Office has been in constant contact with the former lieutenant’s family since the day of the incident, “taking security and safety measures with the necessary prevention.”

The investigation into this case is being classified as “reserved” in Chile. Ojeda’s family lawyer said they have so far not ruled out any motive for the crime and the former military man’s widow was able to view the body this Sunday. “She is not satisfied, she does not recognize him as her husband. They did not let him see it completely. Now it is being asked to expand on this visual identification and some chemical expertise,” said the legal representative in a telephone conversation with CNN.


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