National / World

Costa Rican Diplomat Kidnapped in Venezuela is Free

Caracas, Apr 11 (IANS/EFE): The Costa Rican diplomat who was kidnapped in Caracas last weekend has been recovered safe and sound, Venezuelan Interior Minister Tareck el Aissami said Tuesday.

Guillermo Cholele, trade attache at the Costa Rican Embassy, was abducted Sunday night while driving to his residence.

"Costa Rican Diplomat LIBERATED. In good physical condition and health. He is under police guard en route to reuniting with family," El Aissami said on Twitter.

"Through work of investigation and police pressure we achieved the LIBERATION of COSTA RICAN DIPLOMAT," the minister added.

The 55-year-old diplomat was driving in the capital's La Urbina neighbourhood when several armed assailants intercepted him, pulling Cholele from his car and forcing him into an SUV.

Cholele's wife and two children are living with him in Caracas, but he was alone at the time of the kidnapping, Costa Rican Ambassador Nazareth Avendano said Monday.

The trade attache was found in Charallave, south of Caracas, Miranda state police director Eliseo Guzman told Globovision television, describing Cholele as fine, though "a little dazed".

The Costa Rican Foreign Minister said the kidnappers had called Cholele's family in Caracas and demanded a ransom.

The trade attache's abduction was only the latest in a series of incidents involving foreign diplomats in Venezuela.

On March 17, Venezuelan authorities arrested 12 police officers in connection with the fatal shooting of the daughter of the Chilean consul in the western city of Maracaibo, Fernando Berendique.

The cops opened fire after a vehicle in which Karen Berendique was riding ran a checkpoint.

Mexican Ambassador Carlos Pujalte and his wife were abducted for a few hours Jan 30 after leaving a reception in a residential area of Caracas. Four people are in custody in that case.

The spate of crimes against diplomats began last November, when Chilean Consul Juan Carlos Fernandez was robbed, beaten and shot in Caracas.

Police said the assailants were after Fernandez's car and cell phone.

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