Former Venezuelan intelligence chief assasinated

A former chief of Venezuela’s intelligence service, Eliecer Otaiza, was killed on Saturday, officials have revealed.

Maj Otaiza, a friend and ally of the late president Hugo Chavez, was shot dead outside the capital, Caracas.

President Nicolas Maduro said police would investigate the “suspicious” circumstances of his death.

Maj Otaiza was elected in December as local councillor for the governing PSUV party for the Libertadores area.

Police said the motive for his killing was not yet clear.

The body was discovered on Saturday on the outskirts of the capital with four bullet wounds, said Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres.

The minister added that the major was found without any documents which is why it took police until Monday to identify the body, which had been taken to a local morgue.

He said the subsequent discovery of Maj Otaiza’s stolen and bullet-riddled car led them to suspect the body was that of the councillor.

Maj Otaiza had last been seen leaving a friend’s house on Friday night.

Ties that bind

He was a close friend of the late Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, and backed his 1992 abortive coup aimed at deposing the then-President Carlos Andres Perez.

He was shot four times on 27 November 1992 during an attempt to storm the Miraflores presidential palace, but survived.

Mr Chavez dedicated a chapter in one of his autobiographical books to the major and his role in what the former president called his “Bolivarian Revolution”.

He said Maj Otaiza, then a lieutenant, tried to spring him from a prison in Yare, where Mr Chavez had been sent after the coup attempt.

“He came into the prison masquerading as a woman, and he looked really ugly, by the way,” Mr Chavez wrote.

Mr Chavez recalled how he sent the lieutenant away “to work on the outside for the revolution”.

Maj Otaiza later formed part of Mr Chavez’s personal guard and was named director of the national intelligence service in the early years of Mr Chavez’s presidency.

Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the region and few homicides are ever solved.

Foreign involvement has led to mass protests against the government over the past months.

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