Venezuelan bishops demand serious investigation into assassination of priest

.- The Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela has rejected statements by the country’s Attorney General, Isaias Rodriguez, who said on Tuesday that the murder of Father Jorge Pinango was a crime of passion and not a result of the general lack of security which currently plagues the country.

The president of the Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Ubaldo Santana, read a statement warning that Rodriguez was depriving the case of due process and that his statements disparaged the slain priest, criminalized him and turned him into “an accomplice in his own death.”

“The investigations must respect the dignity of the person, be in keeping with the law, and once those responsible have been identified, proceed to the punishment of the guilty,” he said.

Bishop Santana criticized the “inhumane and indecent” way in which the state media has covered the story.  He reiterated that investigations are just beginning and that there should not be a rush to judgment.  “This monstrous crime has troubled the nation and highlights once again the grave lack of security and the moral decay of the country.”

The Vice President of the Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Roberto Luckert, criticized statements by Congressman Carlos Escarra, who said during a television interview that Father Pinango’s murder had to do with his private life.  “There has been a murder and the crime must be investigated.  We don’t need to be disparaging the poor priest” in front of his family, the archbishop said.

Vicente Alamo, one of the investigators handling the case, announced this week that one person who corresponds to descriptions of the attacker has been detained.  “At this time I have been informed that we are detaining someone who corresponds to the characteristics and to other information we have about the individual who we believe was responsible for the killing of the Undersecretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela,” he said.

Alamo also said the van that was being used by Father Pinango was found in the parking garage of an office building in Chacao.  He said it was left in the garage at 5:50am on Sunday and that witnesses said it was following a Chevrolet Aveo.  At 7:00am two individuals approached the vehicle and attempted to remove it but were unsuccessful.

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