Venezuela: Colonel Marino Lugo dies in state custody

The country's Public Ministry indicated that his death occurred due to hanging.

The Venezuelan Prosecutor's Office reported that Marino Lugo Aguilar, a National Armed Forces colonel arrested in April 2023 for his alleged links to a corruption case, was found dead in his cell.

"At the site it was found that the deceased citizen was named Marino José Lugo Aguilar. The evidence collected by specialists preliminarily establishes that the death occurred by hanging," said the Venezuelan Public Ministry on X.

Additionally, a forensic doctor went to the National Service of Medicine and Forensic Sciences to perform an autopsy on deceased citizen Marino José Lugo Aguilar, who was detained due to an arrest warrant requested in the investigation of the PDVSA-Crypto case.

'Appropriation of public assets'

AFP recalled that Lugo Aguilar worked in marketing ​​for PDVSA and was detained and interrogated by the Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) this week. The media has reported that around 60 people have been arrested since March 2023 when the prosecutor's office announced the beginning of the investigation, which joins another 25 opened since 2017 for corruption in the state oil company. There have been 17 other arrest warrants issued.

According to AFP, Lugo Aguilar is the third person arrested in this case to die in custody. In the other cases, the apparent cause was suicide. The colonel was accused of "appropriation ... of public assets; conspiracy to enter into contracts; evasion of procedures, controls or restrictions in bidding; money laundering, treason and association."

"The former Minister of Petroleum, El Aissami, a former confidant of President Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez sanctioned by the United States for accusations of drug trafficking, was arrested on April 9 for irregularities in the sale of crude oil through crypto assets. El Aissami had resigned in March 2023 after the scandal and disappeared from the public until his arrest," explained AFP.