Chilean President Sebastian Piñera came out in a Tuesday interview saying: "many mistakes have already been made by many governments by blindly trusting the first version of the Carabineros."
Piñera’s partial admission refers to a video released on Monday by a former Carabinero (national police) and a principal suspect in the killing of the young Indigenous Mapuche Camilo Catriallanca on Nov. 14 in his home community in the Araucania region.
In the two-minute home video, former Carabinero First Sergeant Carlos Alarcon initially put in preventative detention with three other policemen for the killing of 24-year-old Catriallanca says he was forced to lie and give false testimonies but doesn’t say by whom.
“They made us lie and give false declarations and now we (Carabineros) are the most hated among the public,” said the young Alcaron to the cameras in a video that went viral on Monday, prompting Piñera to hold an emergency meeting with General Director of the Carabineros, Hermes Soto, Interior Minister Andres Chadwick and five other high-ranking state security force officials the same day.
“Not everything has come to the light,” said Alcaron adding he’d never do anything that was “outside of the law,” in the homemade video.
According to Alcaron’s first testimony during internal investigations, he did not shoot Catrillanca directly but shot at the tractor that the victim was driving with a younger cousin as a passenger. The bullet allegedly bounced from the tractor and hit and injured Camilo who later died from the bullet wound in a nearby hospital.
After the video spread across social media, he was called in by the Araucania regional prosecutor’s office for a third testimony that lasted two hours.
"I think it’s prudent to wait for an investigation, for the prosecutor's office to investigate and not omit parts of the story,” Piñera told local interviewers.
The Chilean leader held an emergency meeting on Monday with Director Soto and his Interior Minister Andres Chadwick whose resignations have been demanded by Mapuche leaders in the Araucania region and civic organizations in the country’s capital of Santiago for being complicit in the murder of Catrillanca.
The billionaire head of state told the media outlet Bio Bio: “I asked General Soto to deliver all the information to the prosecutor's office." Piñera added: "In addition, I told him that we need the police force to act, not only with greater transparency and adherence to the law but to be more effective in the fight against crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism."
Activists, who have held several demonstrations against the government handling of the case, continue to point out the Chadwick has changed the state’s version of the story several times over the past two weeks. The cabinet member at first said the Mapuche were armed and that Carabineros acted in self-defense. It was later revealed Alcaron and other police destroyed vest video of the killing and that the state had been monitoring Catrillanca for the past year.
Rights leaders also say the Chadwick and Soto are carrying out Piñera’s orders to use excessive force and repression against the Mapuche who are demanding the return of their native lands in Chile’s southern region.
Also on Monday, the lawyer to Alcaron and the three other accused Carabineros, Alex Schneider, resigned. His resignation follows that of several other government officials in the Araucania region in light of the Catrillanca case.