CARACAS: Venezuelan anti-government protesters who have been throwing human excrement at riot police during demonstrations are resorting to use of “chemical weapons”, a senior Venezuelan official said.
Judicial inspector general Marielys Valdez spoke out Wednesday after protesters hurled jars of feces dubbed “Poopootov cocktails” during the latest in weeks of clashes in Caracas.
“That is a biochemical weapon… The use of biochemical weapons is fully classified as a crime and incurs strong penalties,” she said on state television channel VTV.
“The use of chemical weapons, in this case human and animal feces, has consequences… it can get into the water and cause terrible contamination” and disease, she added.
Daily clashes between demonstrators and security forces have left 38 people dead since April 1, prosecutors say.
Protesters blame elected President Nicolas Maduro for an economic crisis that has caused food shortages.
They are demanding early elections, accusing him of repressing protesters and trying to install a dictatorship.
Maduro, who blames the crisis on what he calls a US-backed plot, brands the protesters “terrorists.”
He warned Thursday that people who say they are protesting and attack military bases will be tried in military courts.
“Anyone who is captured attacking military bases will go where they have to go: to justice,” Maduro said, while again denouncing the opposition demonstrations.
Scores of people arrested in protests in recent days have been brought before military courts, human rights groups say.
The state prosecution service said on Wednesday that under the constitution, civilians detained in protests should be tried by civil and not military courts.
“Poopootov cocktails” were used last week in a demonstration during a protest in a suburb of Caracas and gained popularity through social media.