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Interior Minister Chadwick testifies to state prosecutors about the Mapuche murder. The accused officer says his commander told him to lie to cover up killing.
Chile’s Interior Minister Andres Chadwick and his undersecretary, Rodrigo Ubilla, were called to testify in front of the state attorney general as they investigate not only the police killing of 24-year-old Indigenous Camilo Catrillanca on Nov. 14 but possible obstruction of justice in the case.
According to local media the two high-ranking officials were questioned for 45 minutes by three state prosecutors at their offices within Chile’s presidential palace in Santiago.
"I have been summoned by the prosecutor’s office as a witness to provide background information and documents as interior minister," in connection to the Catrillanca he said.
Chadwick told reporters that he provided "information that is completely public made available before, especially during the (Tuesday) Senate hearing. There are no new facts," asserted the minister.
"I am available when necessary and as many times as necessary because our decision is to collaborate as much as possible and, as a witness, I can continue to collaborate and provide background information, I am available when the prosecution needs me," added the minister.
Chadwick added that he and other plaintiffs in the case "are sending (prosecutors) the information voluntarily and immediately. We are collaborating to the fullest" in the investigation.
Indigenous Mapuche leaders and activists across Chile have demanded Chadwick’s resignation since the Jungle Command police force murdered the young Catrillanca unprovoked in his home community in the Araucania region one month ago.
They argue Chadwick has changed the state’s version of the assassination several times to protect the interests and reputation of the national police, possibly obstructing the investigation. Activists ultimately hold the minister responsible for giving the go-ahead for excessive force by national police against Mapuches in Araucania since President Sebastian Piñera entered office last March.
Mapuches in southern Chile have been demanding the return of their native lands, stolen by loggers and the government decades ago.
The minister was initially silent during the hours after Catrillanca was killed then came out saying that Jungle Command police shot at Catrillanca in self-defense the afternoon of Nov. 14, receiving the information from Command leader Hermes Soto.
It was later revealed that the young Mapuche was unarmed when he was shot by four state police forces who said there was no video recording of the incident. They later admitted they had destroyed a video memory card, arguing it contained "private" pictures. Days after prosecutors said that the special police command deliberately destroyed their vest cameras to hide evidence and a media investigation showed that forces had been surveilling Catrillanca for at least a year prior to his murder.
Prosecutor Cristian Paredes told local media Wednesday after the testimonies that he and his office "were following due process” by questioning Chadwick and Ubilla regarding the investigation that has prompted national protests and international outrage.
Several authorities in Araucania have now resigned since the assassination, including former Command leader in the region, Manuel Valdivieso, accused of lying and forcing Command sergeants to lie to prosecutors about the murder.
On Tuesday former command sergeant Carlos Alarcon, the main suspect in the case who was put under preventative detention in early December for the murder testified that lawyer Cristian Inostroza and Valdivieso forced him and other police to initially tell prosecutors that they were "attacked with firearms” and had no vest video while in Ercilla on Nov. 14.
Before testifying to local prosecutors on Dec. 3 “lawyer Cristian Inostroza told us what we had to say, which Valdivieso supported. Lawyer Inostroza asked us if we were with cameras. (Sergeant) Raul Avila said he had a camera and Inostroza told us that we would say that no one had a camera," Alarcon told national prosecutors Tuesday.
"We went to the (local) prosecutor's office and gave a statement with this version,” said Alarcon Tuesday. He said he was afraid to tell the truth to the General Director of Carabineros Hermes Soto when he went to Araucania.