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News > Chile

Chilean Legislators, Lawyers Demand Gov't Officials Step Down

  • Mapuche activist in front of Chile Supreme Court in Santiago, Chile, Oct 10, 2018.

    Mapuche activist in front of Chile Supreme Court in Santiago, Chile, Oct 10, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 December 2018

The House of Representatives in Chile say Interior Minister Chadwick and the Carabinero Director should resign for lying about the murder of Mapuche, Catrillanca. 

The Chilean legislator who questioned Interior Minister Andres Chadwick last week regarding the investigation mishandling and murder of a Mapuche man shot by national police (Carabineros) in November, is calling for the minister to resign.

Chile Int. Minister Testifies To Lawyers In Catrillanca Case

Chilean House Representative Emilia Nuyado's demand reiterates what activists and family members of the victim, 24 year old Camilo Catrillanca, have been saying since the young Indigenous man was gunned down on Nov. 14 — that Chadwick and the Carabinero General Director Hermes Soto should immediately step down from their posts.

"Chadwick must step aside for the good of the community, for the pain of the Mapuche people, for the pain that affects the family. Together with General Soto, he should resign. Both should resign. This has exceeded all limits," stressed Nuyado.

The national lawmaker, along with other representatives, say that both have systematically lied several times regarding the Nov. 14 assassination.

"It is a shame that maximum government authorities who represent President Sebastian Piñera have lied saying there was no (evidence) regarding the case," added Nuyado.

Her remarks came as local media revealed video Wednesday night filmed from the chestcam of Petty Officer Patricio Sepulveda, one of the four officers being investigated the murder of Catrillanca. Footage shows how Sepulveda and several others fired shots at people in Catrillanca’s town of Ercilla in Chile’s southern region of Araucania, per instructions from a police helicopter flying overhead.

Carabineros shot at Catrillanca while he was driving a tractor and a bullet entered the back of his head. Footage shows how the Carabineros put a compress on the lower part of the victim’s head and left him on the ground.  

Minister Chadwick and General Soto were initially silent during the hours after the murder, then came out saying that Carabineros shot at Catrillanca in self-defense and later, that there was no video recording of the incident. The suspected police then said they deliberately destroyed the footage in an initial testimony to local prosecutors. One of the four accused Carabineros, Carlos Alcaron subsequently told prosecutors that his Carabinero superiors forced him to lie during his initial statement about the murder.  

Legislators Ricardo Celis who represents Araucania said Wednesday: "The images corroborated what was always known — that there was a video, that it was never destroyed, that Carabineros had the evidence, … but denied them. This is inadmissible under the rule of law."

Celis added in his written statement: "The Carabineros’ actions are embarrassing. ... General Hermes Soto, if he has a minimal degree of self-criticism, clearly has to step aside. If he does not, the Executive should make him see that his remaining ... is not possible," commented the legislator.

Chile: Mapuche Leaders Call on Michelle Bachelet to Intervene in Catrillanca Case

Representative Andrea Parra also of the Araucania region, said the government knew all along of the images and accused Chadwick and Soto lied regarding the case that has shaken the country.

"Minister Chadwick and General Soto have maintained versions that contradict (the truth) which puts their leadership into question. This is a critical situation that the government must explain," said the legislator in his statement.

In a radio interview Thursday morning, the lawyer for Catrillanca’s family, Nelson Miranda, also insisted that Hermes Soto and Chadwick urgently step down.

"Either (Soto and Minister Chadwick) have absolutely no control or are lying. The level of cover-up is still not clear" in the case, said Miranda.

Legislators ultimately hold the minister and Soto responsible for giving police the go-ahead to use excessive force against Indigenous 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.

On Wednesday Chadwick said that he and others in the government “are fully collaborating so that truth and justice are served, and criminals punished accordingly."  

The minister added to the press: "The government, from the beginning, has categorically condemns … the abusive and illicit conducts that have taken place in the lamentable and dramatic death of Camilo Catrillanca."

The national official, showing no sign of stepping aside, added that the administration will continue to report on its next moves in the case.

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