CARACAS, Venezuela – Police have arrested a suspect in the mysterious murder of a former Venezuelan intelligence chief with close ties to the late Hugo Chavez.
Eliezer Otaiza's body was dumped in a forested area on the edge of Caracas Saturday after his vehicle was intercepted by a group of armed men. He was shot four times.
No motive has been established for the crime but President Nicolas Maduro said late Tuesday that enemies of his socialist government may have been behind Otaiza's murder.
In a ceremony honoring Otaiza at the National Assembly he urged his supporters to stay on maximum alert, saying that some of the opponents who've been staging anti-government protests since February are committed to using violence to destabilize the country.
"There's no such thing as casual coincidences," Maduro told lawmakers and party leaders, many of whom vowed to avenge Otaiza's slaying. "Let's not forget the context of the last few months."
Interior Minister Manuel Rodriguez Torres gave few details about the investigation into Otaiza's murder, saying only that the arrested suspect, who he didn't name, had led police to identify the other alleged gunmen.
Otaiza was one of the most loyal supporters of Chavez's 21st century socialist revolution. As a young army officer, he backed Chavez's failed 1992 coup attempt and was responsible for his personal security guard when he was elected president in 1992.
He later served as national director of the country's intelligence service. In December, he was elected a city councilman in the downtown Caracas district that has long been a government stronghold.
Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world and few killings are ever solved.
At Tuesday's ceremony, Maduro promoted Otaiza post-mortem to the rank of lieutenant colonel.