Venezuelan Surgeon Released under Presidential Pardon
September 17, 2020
Venezuelan orthopedic surgeon José Alberto Marulanda was released in early September 2020, following more than two years in arbitrary detention. He was among more than 100 individuals pardoned by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in a decree he issued on August 31, 2020. It is our understanding that Dr. Marulanda’s release is unconditional and that his case—which was ongoing at the time of his release—has been dismissed. The presidential pardons were meted out in the run-up to the country’s legislative elections in December and included a number of high-profile opposition leaders. Several hundred other political prisoners remain in detention.
Dr. Marulanda was detained in May 2018 after security forces broke into his home reportedly seeking his companion, a military officer who was suspected of plotting against the government. Reports indicate that, because she was not at home, Dr. Marulando was taken into custody in her stead. We understand that he was detained incommunicado for several days at the Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), during which time he was subjected to torture. Dr. Marulanda was subsequently charged with instigating military rebellion. To our knowledge, no evidence was presented to support the charge brought against him. Despite being a civilian, his case was brought before a military court. Media articles indicate that, while held in incommunicado detention, he was beaten on the head until he lost hearing in his right ear and suffered nerve damage in his fingers as a result of being held in tight handcuffs for an extended period of time. We understand that he did not receive adequate medical care.
Dr. Marulanda was held for the majority of his detention at Ramo Verde Military prison under harsh conditions of confinement.