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Chile: Authorities Arrest Police Who Left a Young Man Blind

  • Citizens hold a protest in solidarity with the people who were shot in their eyes, Santiago, Chile, Nov. 12, 2019.

    Citizens hold a protest in solidarity with the people who were shot in their eyes, Santiago, Chile, Nov. 12, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 21 August 2020

Gustavo Gatica became the first citizen to be blinded by police brutality in the October protests.

Chile’s Prosecutor's Office Friday reported the arrest of the policeman who fired rubber pellets at Gustavo Gatica and left him blind in October 2019, when thousands of Chileans took to the streets to protest against the economic policy of President Sebastian Piñera.


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In July, Lieutenant Colonel Claudio Crespo was dismissed from the Police after an internal investigation in which a video showed that the officer had acted irregularly. The Public Ministry accused him of being the author of the injuries that caused Gatica's blindness.

"As a result of the tests and a meticulous work of the criminalistics laboratory, the responsibility of this lieutenant colonel in the crimes of unlawful coercion and very serious injuries against the young man was determined", the head of the Human Rights Brigade of the Investigative Police (PDI), Juan Carlos Carrasco, said.

Gustavo Gatica, a 21-year-old psychology student, was injured near Dignity Square in Santiago city and had to be admitted to a hospital for 17 days. He became the first Chilean citizen to be blinded by police brutality.

In the video, Gustavo Gatica is protesting in front of the Colina police station 10 months after the social outbreak. The adjective "brave" is too short to describe him.

His case provoked fiery criticism from various international organizations, who denounced the high number of eye mutilations. The National Institute for Human Rights (INDH) reported that 460 people had eye injuries, 35 of them lost an eye and two were completely blind.

In the October protests, the Piñera administration detained thousands of people, many of whom were subjected to serious violations of their human rights, among which are cases of sexual attacks on protesters.

On August 14, the Chilean police also removed from their ranks two officers involved in another case of police brutality during social protests.

Their victim was Fabiola Campillai, a 36-year-old woman who was hit by the tear gas bomb while waiting for the bus to go to her night shift at work.

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