A detained former member of Chile’s militarised police, the Carabineros, released a video on Monday December 3 stating that he was pressured to lie in the case of the murder of an indigenous Mapuche man.
Carlos Alarcón was one of the Carabineros present at the death of 24-year-old Camilo Catrillanca on November 14, 2017, and BioBioChile reported that evidence points to Alarcón being the perpetrator of the crime. Along with three other members of the patrol who were present at the tragic event, he has been expelled from the Carabineros and is now detained in Temuco police station, where he has been since last Friday.
“You know that I’m not a criminal, none of us here are, therefore there are people that made us lie,” Alarcón explained in the video. “We gave false statements and now we are the worst people, those who pose the most danger for citizens.”
There had been irregularities in the case from the beginning, reported Plano Informativo. For example, the first version of events explained that the Mapuche fired at the police officers first, inciting retaliative action from the Carabinero forces. However, days later, Alarcón explained to the judge that this was not the case, and that it was the Carabineros who first used lethal force.
The investigation of the case was further hindered by the destruction of a memory card from a video camera that was being carried during the event. However, during primary investigations it was said that no officer was carrying recording equipment.
The death of Catrillanca caused controversy at the time and led to the resignation of the head of Carabino Order and Security in La Araucania, General Maurio Victtoriano, as well as the Chief of Special Forces, Colonel Jorge Contreras.
“Unfortunately we can’t go back in time, we can only trust in God and hope that this ends well,” Alarcón said in the video, which is addressed to his ex-colleagues. “There are still things that haven’t been uncovered because you that know us know that we didn’t act badly or act as criminals.”
In response to this recent revelation, La Tercera reported that President Sebastián Piñera and the Minister of the Interior, Andrés Chadwick, called an emergency meeting with the Cabineros general director, Hermes Soto. They demanded that the security group collaborate with justice to clear up the events that led to Catrillanca’s death.
According to reports from El Comercio, Piñera stated that if there was indeed someone within the Carabineros that had pressured the officers to lie, then that person “will have to assume their responsibility and receive their just punishment.”
Chile’s security and government forces have had numerous clashes with the Mapuche people, as often governmen regulations do not respect what the indigenous group see as their rightful land. There have also been cases of Carabineros using unnecessary force against the indigenous groups during protests, as well as Mapuche individuals allegedly disappearing or being killed by the militarised police force.