Crime & Justice

Chilean prosecutor to investigate police chief for excesses during social unrest

Santiago, Jan 3 (EFE).- The Attorney General’s Office has requested a formal investigation against the general director of the Carabineros police, Ricardo Yáñez, for his possible command responsibility for the human rights violations committed by the force during the street protest of 2019.

Local media reported Wednesday that prosecutor Xavier Armandáriz requested that charges be filed against Yáñez, who served as the police’s director of public order and security during the massive protests that came to be known as the “social outburst” and took over as head of the institution in November 2020.

Between October 2019 and March 2020, Chile experienced the largest wave of demonstrations since the end of the military dictatorship. The protests began as a response to an increase in the price of subway tickets and evolved into calls for a more equitable economic model with greater social rights.

The unrest resulted in some thirty deaths and thousands of people injured, including dozens with eye injuries, as well as episodes of extreme violence, including looting and arson.

The United Nations and organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused the Carabineros of human rights violations, and dozens of lawsuits have been filed.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office has also requested that Mario Rozas, who was Carabineros’ director general during the outbreak, and Diego Olate, the institution’s former deputy director, be formally charged.

Asked about Yáñez’s continuity in the post, government spokeswoman Camila Vallejo called for “caution” and said that a decision will be made “at the moment when the formalization takes place and the justice system determines whether it will finally make concrete accusations.”

She also said that a balance should be struck between the judicial clarification of the Carabineros’ involvement in human rights violations and the continuation of their operations.

The formal investigation hearing is a procedural step in which the prosecutor informs the defendant, in the presence of the judge, that an investigation is being conducted against them.

So far, the judiciary has not set a date for the hearing against Yáñez and the former high-ranking officers under investigation. EFE

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