Police officers indicted for park clashes
Forty-one police officers, including the top brass of the Federal and the City’s Metropolitan force, were indicted yesterday for the repression unleashed at the Indoamericano Park in December, 2010, which killed two people who were demanding housing.
That critical month will always be remembered as the baptism of fire for Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri’s local police force but also as a turning-point in Kirchnerite security policies, considering that it led to the creation of the Security Ministry, which was first led by Nilda Garré.
Even though both forces tried to deny responsibility, Judge Mónica Berdión de Crudo says in her indictment published yesterday that both should be held responsible.
“This did not take place by chance. It was part of a strategy co-ordinated earlier, which was done under Federal Police supervision,” the judge said.
The Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), the human rights organization representing the parents of the two fatal victims celebrated the indictment.
“This is a positive decision and it shows what we have been demanding,” lawyer Federico Efrón told the Herald.
Judge Berdión de Crudo indicted Hugo Lompizano, Juan Antonio Quintero and Emilio Ramón Miragaya, senior officers of the Federal Police, for homicide and bodily harm. Metropolitan Police commanders Claudio Enrique Serrano, César Enrique Menardi, Alfredo Córdoba, Alberto Ojeda and Miguel Ciancio also face the same charges.
According to Judge Berdión de Crudo, the eight senior officers were responsible for the lack of planning of the raid ordered in the City neighbourhood of Villa Lugano after hundreds of families took over a plot of land.
“Evidently, the members of both forces did not share criteria, although this was a joint action, but none of the forces tried to guarantee correct communications before and after the eviction,” the jduge wrote.
Twenty-five members of the Metropolitan Police were indicted as the material authors of the murder of Rosemary Chura Puña and Bernardo Salgueiro. As Efrón explained to this newspaper, those were the agents who were at the location where the shooting started. An additional 27 Metropolitan police members saw charges dropped at the request of the plaintiff.
The judge also indicted eight further members of the Federal Police, accusing them of unlawful use of a deadly weapon.
According to the judicial investigation, experts found that more than 581 shots were fired by the policemen in the place. The judge also highlighted that there were policemen not wearing their uniforms and identification, which was also illegal.
One of the points Efrón criticized was the fact that the agents of the Metropolitan Police facing accusations have not been removed from the force, nor the eight members of the Federal Police.
All the indicted agents of the force created by Macri are being represented by court-appointed counsels. In 2011, when Nilda Garré took charge of the national Security Ministry, she ordered that no institutional defence should be granted to those accused of police abuses.
However, sources confirmed that four of the Federal Police officers charged with unlawful use of a deadly weapon are currently being represented by lawyers from the force.
“Since the beginning of the investigation, City Hall lacked the will to co-operate in clarifying what was one of the most serious actions in which the Metropolitan Police was involved,” the human rights organization yesterday highlighted in a press release.
Some of the men indicted yesterday have been involved in other repressive actions. Lompizano, a high-ranking Federal Police officer, participated in the murder of Workers’ Party (PO) activist Mariano Ferreyra in 2010.
In April last year, Lompizano was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in the crime of the young activist in a trial held last year, which also sentenced railway union leader José Pedraza.
The CELS also reported that Ricardo Ferrón — included among the 25 Metropolitan Police officers accused of being the material authors of the homicides — was also involved in the violent eviction that took place last year in the Neuropsychiatric Hospital José Borda, injuring more than 30 protesters.
On December 3, 2010, hundreds of families arrived at the Indoamericano Park demanding better housing conditions, a persistent claim in the City. Four days afterwards, Judge Cristina Nazar ordered the eviction of the squatters and in a joint operation including around 200 members of the Federal Police and 60 of the Metropolitan force, 28-year-old Chura Puña and 24-year-old Salgueiro were killed. Chura Puña had two small children.
In spite of the violence and the deaths, the squatters did not leave the place. and on December 9 a group of hooligans arrived. The shooting lasted hours and then another man, 38-year-old Emiliano Canaviri, was killed. His case was not included in the indictment.