State prosecutors investigating the murder of Mapuche leader Camilo Catrilanca by members of the Chilean Police has included more suspects in the case, including the lawyer who advised the Special Operations Group in the lead up to the investigation.
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Cristian Inostroza, who provided advice for the four policemen charged for the murder of Catrillanca on Nov. 14, was called for questioning Thursday.
After Catrillanca was murdered, the police said the murder had occurred in the context of confrontations between community members and the police. They also declared that they were carrying no cameras at the time.
The two statements were proven false. The Mapuche man, who was driving away from police in his tractor, did not open fire and the police were not under threat. Furthermore, one of the police had a body camera and it was later revealed that he had destroyed the camera’s memory card and with it vital evidence in the case.
Witnesses in the case testified that Inostroza held a 15-minute meeting with the four policemen charged (Carlos Alarcon, Raul Avila, Braulio Valenzuela, and Patricio Sepulveda) before their first declarations to prosecutors on Nov. 14.
According to sources close to the investigations, the prosecutors seek to determine why the police lied about the use of cameras during the operation and if they did so under someone’s recommendation.
Javier Jara, the lawyer of Raul Avila, the policeman who confessed to having destroyed the memory card because it contained “private” images, is now saying he “is not aware that the card contained private images” and is arguing his client did not manipulate evidence.
“By personal will, he has not manipulated any evidence,” Jara argued according to local reports.
Camilo’s family is arguing that Inostroza’s deposition proves their theory that high-ranking police officials attempted to cover up the crime.
The case of Camilo’s assassination prompted nationwide protests against police brutality and the Chilean state’s anti-terrorism law that is used to prosecute Mapuches who are defending their claim to their ancestral territories.