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April 24, 2014
Monday, December 23, 2013

Evidence implicates more police officers

A group of residents protest against police officers in Tucumán earlier this month.

Links with looters are ‘conclusive,’ says Concordia prosecutor; 8 arrested in Tucumán

The ongoing investigations of the lootings in the Entre Ríos city of Concordia earlier this month that left one dead has led so far to 105 “positive” raids — that is, stolen goods were recovered.
Meanwhile, in Tucumán, 100 raids have led to 70 arrests, including eight police officers, and the recovery of 1900 stolen items.
Five of the houses where looted goods — especially electronic appliances — were apparently stored in Concordia belonged to relatives of striking police officers, a fact that could strengthen the hypothesis of police complicity with the violent acts that took place in Concordia between December 8 and 9, the city’s Prosecutor Coordinator José Costa said.
To determine whether this link actually existed “information gathered so far is being drawn together,” including photographs and 400 hours of film footage, Costa told state-run news agency Télam.

The ongoing investigations of the lootings in the Entre Ríos city of Concordia earlier this month that left one dead has led so far to 105 “positive” raids — that is, stolen goods were uncovered.

Meanwhile, in Tucumán, 100 raids have led to 70 arrests, including eight police officers, and the recovery of 1900 stolen items.

Five of the houses where looted goods — especially electronic appliances — were “warehoused” in Concordia belonged to relatives of striking police officers, something that might strengthen the hypothesis of police complicity with the violent acts that took place in Concordia between December 8 and 9, the city’s Prosecutor Coordinator José Costa said.

To determine whether this link actually existed “information gathered so far is being drawn together,” including photographs and 400 hours of film footage, Costa told state-run news agency Télam.

If the judiciary concludes that police officers actually participated in the lootings, police officers will be charged and all criminal cases will be sent to trial.

Summary jury trials may also be an option, the coordinating prosecutor said.

Extensive investigation

Germán Dri, one of the prosecutors in the 11-member team led by Costa, said “an extensive investigation” is in the works.

Prosecutors must find out if those who participated in the lootings were somehow connected with provincial police forces, but also if looters were linked to the group of police officers that took over the local police headquarters during the strike.

“We’re making progress in data classification,” Dri said. “Some of the links have been conclusive and charges have been filed,” he added.

Hours after the violence broke out, Dri and his peer Fabio Zabaleta carried out a raid at a house located on Garumba street. The house belonged to a woman who now lives in the southern part of the country, mother of a sergeant “whose surname is Valdez and is currently working at the No. 2 Precint” of Concordia, prosecutors said.

During the raid, a number of washing machines, a vacuum cleaner, a pressure washer, an electric motor and several tools possibly stolen from retailers located on nearby Tavella Avenue were found.

Judicial sources confirmed Valdez is one of the policemen that on the night of December 8 entered the police headquarters and grabbed Inspector Nelson Vega by the back, before being repeatedly hit by other provincial police officers during the protest for wage hikes.

CFK calls for investigation

On December 13, Zabaleta said that at least 10 police officers were involved in the violent episodes and that his office carried out more than 200 raids.

That same, day, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner published a series of tweets with excerpts of news pieces with details of the events in Concordia — including a story from news site Minuto Uno that reported looted electronics had been found at Valdez’s house.

70 arrests in Tucumán

In Tucumán province, the Public Prosecutor’s office carried out an investigation that so far has ended with 70 arrests and more than 100 raids, where 1900 stolen goods were recovered, Télam reported.

Eight Tucumán police officers were arrested and charged with “sedition,” since the local Justice department believes the officers — some of them exonerated from the force after leading a series of illegal protests and sit-ins last year — took up weapons and left citizens unprotected.

Experts are still analyzing cell phones and computers belonging to those arrested and their relatives, in order to find a connection between the police strike and the lootings.

In case investigators are unable to prove their complicity, the Public Prosecutor’s office insists it can still press charges, as it believes the leaders of the sit-in were well aware that by leaving “liberated” areas they could unleash criminal activities. That is indeed what ended up happening when 250 retail shops were destroyed and six people were killed in a wave of violence.

Herald staff with Télam

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