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News > Argentina

Police Officers Convicted in Argentina for Racial Hate Crime

  • "A historic sentence for Argentina." Jul. 11, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@rionegrocomar

Published 11 July 2023

The officers were convicted "of institutional violence out of racial hatred."

The Argentine justice system sentenced on Tuesday nine police officers accused of the murder of Lucas Gonzalez, a 17-year-old teenager who was riddled with bullets in late November 2021 in the capital, Buenos Aires.

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Commissioner Gabriel Isassi and officers Fabián López and Juan José Nieva were sentenced to life imprisonment as guilty of homicide.  The conviction was for five times aggravated homicide including malice aforethought, racial hatred and abuse of office, according to the sentence.

Six other officials were sentenced to between four and eight years for concealment. Among them were three commissioners and a deputy commissioner, who received sentences of six years in prison and disqualification for 10 years for concealment. Two officers were sentenced to four years for concealment and eight years for torture, respectively.

Of the eleven accused of tampering with evidence, five were acquitted and may leave prison immediately.

Lucas, who lived on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, was shot on November 17, 2021, as he was returning from playing a soccer match at a club in the capital. He was accompanied by three friends (aged 19) who survived the attack. The sentence declared them and their families victims of institutional violence.

Lucas González: Convictions for murder five times aggravated by the use of a firearm, aggravated assault, racial hatred, aggravated assault of 2 or more persons and for having abused their function as a member of a security force. Other police officers convicted of cover-up.

Lucas' father, Héctor González, before entering the courtroom, said that the policemen "stigmatized them because they were morochos, (dark-skinned) because they came from a shantytown."

The plaintiff's lawyer, Gregorio Dalbón said in declarations to the press that "it is a historic sentence for Argentina," since "never before had we heard convictions for institutional violence due to racial hatred."

The young men were returning from the Barracas Central club in the car of the father of one of them. Joaquin Gómez was driving, and they stopped to buy a drink. They were approached by an unidentified police car, and the youths thought they were criminals since the policemen were in civilian clothes, so they got scared and accelerated to escape. 

They were shot from the other car; Lucas González was shot twice in the head and died hours later in the hospital. His three friends, meanwhile, were detained and tortured so that they would not tell the truth about what had happened.

The police officers involved sought and obtained the complicity of other officers, who helped them manipulate the crime scene, plant a gun, and spread an official version blaming the victims. The plaintiffs announced that they will take action against the police authorities who tampered with the investigations. 

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