British tourist killed in Venezuela

| Jul. 20, 2011 |

Published by The Times //pdf1//

A British tourist has been shot dead and his brother injured on the idyllic Caribbean island of Margarita, just off Venezuela’s coast.

Thomas Ossel, 28, from Bedfordshire, resisted a robbery attempt along with his brother Jack, 21, as they were leaving the island to return home. The assailants were armed with a pistol and knife.

Jacqueline Baxter, a friend of the family, said: “At the moment their father has travelled to Venezuela and obviously their mum is not able to make a statement.

“The younger son is still out there, so he is still at considerable risk.” Local media reports are mixed, some suggesting that Thomas was shot through the heart killing him instantly while others claim that he was shot through the jaw.

Venezuelan police official Luis Garavin told local radio that Jack Ossel was wounded by a single gunshot.

Residents have said that thefts and robberies at the inn where the pair were staying are very common, as it is known to be occupied by wealthy tourists.

The assailants failed to steal any belongings from the brothers, leading investigators to believe they are not seasoned criminals.

Mr Ossel is the third foreign tourist to have been killed on Margarita this year. The island is famous as a luxury resort, with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi having visited his friend President Chávez there in 2009, inviting him into his now infamous tent which he set up on the island.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has confirmed the death of Mr Ossel. A spokesman said: “We can confirm the death of a British National on Margarita Island in Venezuela on July 18. We are providing consular assistance for the family.”

Crime has increased significantly in Venezuela since Mr Chávez took power in 1999 and is one of his many headaches as elections loom next year.

Mr Chávez recently returned to Cuba to undergo chemotherapy, leading to speculation on the future of his Bolivarian revolution.