House arrest for the policeman who killed a juggler in Chile

Chilean Police Officer, Carabineros

Justice chilean decreed this monday total house arrest for the agent of the Carabineros police force accused of shoot and kill a juggler during a routine check-up last Friday.

The accused, identified as Juan González Iturriaga, a Carabineros sergeant, will be investigated for simple homicide during the next 120 days, time in which the precautionary measure that was imposed will govern.

A private complainant requested preventive detention and the formalization of the accused for qualified homicide, arguing that “none of the shots is justified”, a request that was denied by the guarantee judge in charge of the hearing, Felipe Muñoz.

This event, which deepened doubts about the police force at the national level, unleashed a day of riots in the south of the country last Friday, in the small town of Panguipulli, in the southern region of Los Ríos, 800 kilometers south of the capital.

The uniformed man was arrested that same day after some videos were broadcast showing how he pointed his firearm at the victim, Francisco Martínez, 27, who lashes out with his juggling knives before being shot dead by the defendant.

According to the prosecutor in charge of the case, Juan Agustín Meléndez, there was no “rational need for defense” of the police and his last shot, out of a total of six identified by the persecutor, was “unjustifiable” since the victim was already lying on the ground and had been shot three times before receiving the bullet in the chest that caused the death. The judge agreed with the Prosecutor’s Office, stating that “the last shot perpetrated is not protected by law.”

For its part, the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH), which also took part in the case, affirmed that the act “constitutes a violation of human rights.” “The trajectory of the (last) bullet is downward, which makes legitimate defense ruled out,” argued the entity’s lawyer.

González Iturriaga’s defense stated that the process followed protocol and that “there was no other way” to stop the aggression against the police officer.

This episode unleashed a wave of criticism towards the Carabineros on the part of the opposition and human rights organizations, who reiterated the “urgency” to refound the police force and called for a “rational and proportional” use of force.

At the end of 2019, Chile experienced the most serious social crisis since the end of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), with thirty deaths and thousands of injuries, in addition to reports of human rights violations against the security forces .

Criticism against the police force, once well valued by the public, intensified last October, a few days after the first anniversary of the social outbreak, when an agent threw a minor into the bed of a river during a protest.


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