By Ruth Lara Castillo.
Since August 26, Filomena Acosta has been desperate, searching for the body of her son, Rafael Antonio Chirinos, after she knew of his death due to alleged tuberculosis. But the death occurred 51 days earlier, while he was jailing at the Center for New Men in Carabobo state.
The family has not been able to locate the body, let alone ascertain the cause of death.
Filomena stressed that her son died July 4, but it was more than a month and a half later when the director of the prison gave her the news. From that moment on, her agony began, since she and her daughter Nahomi have visited the morgue in Valencia, the Scientific and Investigation Police, and the Municipal Cemetery in Valencia, but to date, they have not been able to locate her son remains.
According to the complaint filed with the Venezuelan Prison Observatory (OVP), between July 4 and August 26, Filomena went to the prison at least three times to bring her son food and other supplies but, they never told her that Rafael Antonio had died.
“We are in pain, but we are also indignant because we were fooling by the prison authorities. They kept what we took there for him and had no compassion to tell us that he had died,” Filomena said in the complaint she filed with the NGO.
On August 31, Filomena went to the Carabobo State Prosecutor Office to file an official complaint because, despite the searching, she has not received the death certificate of her son Rafael Antonio from the forensic authorities. Allegedly, he got buried with the name of Eduardo Arguello in a common grave in the Municipal Cemetery of Valencia.
Nohemi says that officials from the Investigation Police identified the body of Rafael Antonio, but at the morgue in Valencia did not issue the death certificate with his name, so there are no records in the cemetery to confirm that the man buried is his brother.
The family is angry at the irregularities and growing suspicious.
“First, he was transferred from the prison to the morgue identified as Eduardo Arguello. Second, they did not give us the notice immediately to go and claim the body in the morgue. Third, because the body was declared destitute and buried in a common grave,” Nahomi expressed to the Venezuelan Prison Observatory.
Filomena Acosta assures that she will continue denouncing this situation because she has the right to know what happened to the body of her son.
“We know that we are not going to revival him, but as a mother, I am making this denunciation because we have the right to have a certificate, a death certificate that legally considers him dead. And we also have the right as all human being of having a dignified burial,” she added.
After being received at the Superior Prosecutor Office of the state of Carabobo, the family members learned that the case was referred to the Prosecutor Office for the Protection of Fundamental Rights. They await actions that will allow them to obtain the remains of Rafael Antonio Chirinos.