Venezuelan authorities: 5 jailed in boy's killing

AP News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2011 4:57 PM
Venezuelan authorities: 5 jailed in boy's killing

Authorities are investigating five people in the beating death of a 5-year-old boy that sparked violent protests in the victim's hometown, the country's top prosecutor said Wednesday.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said the suspects, including the boy's mother, face charges of murder, sexual abuse and abusive treatment.

Anger over the case sparked violence in Guanare, a town about 340 miles (550 kilometers) southwest of Caracas, this week. Venezuelan news reports said about 30 people were detained in the violence, which broke out a few days after the boy's death Dec. 1.

Riot police and troops patrolled the streets Wednesday while the suspects were arraigned, the Venezuelan television channel Globovision reported.

"A mob of ruffians used acts of violence to try to undermine a judicial process related to the unfortunate incident," Portuguesa state Gov. Wilmar Castro Soteldo said, speaking during an interview broadcast Tuesday on state television.

Castro Soteldo said National Guard soldiers were called in to quell the unrest.

Four women and a man were jailed as suspects in the boy's killing, Ortega said in a statement. The attorney general said arraignment proceedings for the suspects began Tuesday and continued Wednesday.

Authorities say some of the suspects took the boy to a medical clinic and reported he had fallen from a motorcycle. He later died.

Prosecutors said in a statement that an autopsy found bruises and other injuries on the boy's body as well as scars showing a history of physical abuse. It said the autopsy also found "signs of sexual abuse."

On Monday and Tuesday, troops used tear gas to chase off angry people who gathered in Guanare awaiting results of initial court proceedings, the newspaper El Universal reported. A house where the boy was allegedly abused was vandalized by a mob, as were other buildings, the newspaper said.

The boy's mother lives in another part of Venezuela, and two of the women arrested at the clinic were in charge of taking care of him, authorities said. Another suspect was accused of physically abusing the boy previously.