Information on the "Botalon" case (follow-up to VEN26266.E of 7 February 1997) [VEN26627.E]

The information that follows was provided by the Sucesos (Events) section of the Valencia daily El Espectador during a 3 April 1997 telephone interview. The source indicated that El Espectador followed the case for approximately a month and a half, obtaining testimonies from witnesses and other sources, and that the information provided was included in news articles on the case published by this and other Valencia dailies.

"El Botal├│n" is the name of the restaurant where a group of five patrons (and a waiter standing by) were shot by members of the Policia Tecnica Judicial (PTJ) on the evening of Friday, 23 July 1993. According to witnesses, a group of police agents entered the restaurant and shot a group of five individuals sitting at a table before the latter had a chance to shoot back. Initially, the police claimed that a shoot-out had taken place and that all the dead patrons were involved in organized crime. It is not certain whether all five patrons were armed; it is alleged that the police may have planted a grenade and a gun in the hands of two of the victims. One of the victims was a well-known criminal, a former guerrilla who had turned to common crime and was considered a leader in a large gang responsible for many crimes. Two of the victims were also known to be involved in criminal activity. However, the other two appear to have not been involved in organized crime, and may have been killed by police agents who thought they were criminal associates of the other three. The death of those two individuals is what added notoriety and scandal to the incident. The PTJ anti-robbery division was headed at the time by comisario Alberto Morales, who was later implicated in other scandals and was eventually removed from his post in Caracas and assigned to a post in the interior. The source was uncertain of Morales' current whereabouts.

The El Universal journalist cited in VEN26266.E indicated that the information he provided in that Response was based on his recollection of the case, some notes and articles readily available to him, and information provided by colleagues in his section (3 April 1997). The source corroborated the general information provided in the preceding paragraphs, but pointed out that some of the details remain contentious, since there are differing versions of the case and some of its details were never clarified (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References


El Espectador, Sucesos section, Valencia. 3 April 1997. Telephone interview with representative.

El Universal, Policiales section, Caracas. 3 April 1997. Telephone interview with journalist in charge of section.