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News > Chile

Chile's House: Interior Min. Responsible for Catrillanca Murder

  • Interior Minister of Chile, Andres Chadwick (l) with Carabineros

    Interior Minister of Chile, Andres Chadwick (l) with Carabineros | Photo: @andreschadwickp

Published 9 July 2019

Chile’s House of Reps hold the interior minister and undersecretary ultimately responsible for the murder of Mapuche, Camilo Catrillanca.

A special investigatory commission in Chile’s House of Representatives concludes that the nation’s interior minister, Andres Chadwick and his undersecretary,  Rodrigo Ubilla, are ultimately responsible for the National Police killing of Camilo Catrillanca last November in his home village of Temucuicui. 


Chilean Police Sergeant Formally Charged With Mapuche Murder

The eight legislators who voted that the two high-ranking officials are responsible for the death of the young Indigenous Mapuche say their predecessors should also be held accountable "because the interior ministry has never been able to get the Carabineros (National Police) under control," even though they are within the ministry’s jurisdiction.

Two commission members voted against the motion, and one abstained. 

Ever since Catrillanca’s death last year, his family, human rights activists, and several legislators have been pointing the finger at Chadwick and demanding his resignation, saying he grossly mishandled the case investigation and information regarding the murder. 

Minister Chadwick and former National Police General Hermes Soto were initially silent during the first hours after the murder that took place Nov. 14, 2018 when around 200 Carabineros entered the Temucuicui firing indiscriminately against the Mapuche, injuring five people in the operation. Catrillanca, the grandson of the Lonko (community leader) Juan Catrillanca, was shot in the back of the head. He was later taken to a health center where he died. 

Chadwick initially came out with a statement saying that the police shot Catrillanca in self-defense. However, chest cam video and testimonies by Carabineros later revealed this to be false and that Catrillanca was unarmed and driving a tractor at the time that four National Police members shot at him, unprovoked.

President Sebastian Piñera asked for the resignation of Soto who was replaced as the Carabinero commander last January. Dozens of other National Police members and government authorities have also resigned or been dismissed over the assassination of the Mapuche who was being surveillanced by the police for a year prior to his death. 

After a lengthy case trial that included over 70 testimonies, even Chadwick’s, state prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison sentence for Carlos Alarcon, the police officer who landed the bullet that killed Catrillanca. The former sargeant withheld the chestcam video evidence at first under direction of his superiors.

Legislator and commission leader, Ricardo Celis, told reporters the conclusion was bipartisan and not an issue of “left or right,” but about “the flagrant violation of human rights against a Mapuche community member.” 

On Tuesday, right-wing President Piñera, who has continually come out in defense of Chadwick, saying the death of Catrillanca was "an unfortunate and condemnable fact," but came once again to Chadwick’s side, saying the minister "did what he had to do.” The president said those who were ultimately responsible for Catrillanca’s murder were the “ones who fired” on him and who hid information about the murder from the nation.

Marcelo Catrillanca, father of Camilo, told local media that the legislators reached the same conclusion that he and his family have held all along and once against asked for the immediate resignation of the minister and Ubilla. 

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