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Newsline: Venezuela charges four with kidnap of Mexico envoy

Under pressure after a string of attacks on diplomats, Venezuela charged four people on Saturday, including a former police officer, with kidnapping the Mexican ambassador and his wife in the capital earlier this year. Carlos Pujalte and his wife were grabbed by gunmen as they left a reception in a wealthy Caracas neighbourhood at around midnight on January 29. They were held captive for several hours before being freed in a slum on the other side of the city. The case underlined Venezuela’s high crime rate – one of the biggest issues in an election year – and came less than two months before another incident involving diplomats: last week’s killing by police of a Chilean consul’s teenage daughter. In a statement, the attorney general’s office said three men and one woman in their 20s had been charged with offenses including kidnapping and robbery. It said two of the men and the woman were arrested last month in Caracas by the CICPC investigative police, and that the 21-year-old woman was found in possession of a gold chain linked to the separate kidnapping of a local politician’s relative. It said two cars were seized, including a Honda Civic thought to have been used during that abduction, the kidnapping of the Mexican ambassador and his wife, and a third abduction. The fourth suspect was identified as a 28-year-old former Caracas policeman who was detained separately by CICPC officials last month in central Miranda state. Venezuelan police have often been accused of being involved in serious crimes, contributing to the high numbers of armed robberies, kidnappings and murders that have turned Caracas into one of the most dangerous cities in the world.



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