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Police officer in Chile arrested for throwing teenager from bridge

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A man confronts riot police during a protest against Chile's government, in Santiago on Friday.

A teenager was thrown off a bridge and fell into a river

The local authorities in Santiago, Chile have arrested, a police officer who allegedly threw a teenager off a bridge into a river bed. The incident reportedly took place during an ongoing protest in the city. The teenager is currently receiving medical treatment in a local hospital. According to the latest medical examinations, the youth suffered from head trauma and a wrist fracture. As of now, he is still in serious but stable condition.

The incident took place when the police officer allegedly pushed the mishap teenager off the bridge and he fell into the Mapocho River. Ambulances arrived at the scene immediately after that to provide prompt assistance. Following the incident, it has discharged huge waves of criticism against the police for the repression during demonstrations. In response to the incident, swarms of people protested on Saturday (3rd October) outside the clinic where the youth is receiving medical treatment. The protestors strongly condemned the police and carried signs that said: ″He did not fall, they threw him.”

The ongoing civil unrests in the Latin American nation

Chile was once considered one of the most prosperous and politically stable countries in Latin America. However, numerous civil unrests have since erupted since a year ago due to a wide range of social and issues. One of the largest protests took place in 2019 in Chile when the government announced a raise in the Santiago Metro‘s subway fare. Moreover, other contributing factors such as the increased cost of livingprivatization and prevalent inequality in the country have also led to widespread dissatisfaction against the government and huge-scale protests.

Demonstrators in the country have raised questions and doubts about police conduct when dealing with clashes. The protests have led to serious damage to public infrastructure in the country. As a result, it is often touted as the “worst civil unrest” having occurred in Chile since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship.

People are seen in a cloud of tear gas during a protest against Chile’s government on Friday.

The casualties and damage incurred due to widespread demonstrations

In fact, about 31 people have died in the protests. Numerous allegations of human rights violations were filed against the police. During the protests 36 people have died as of February 2020. The protests and demonstrations have also caused thousands of people injured and arrested.

Following the series of demonstrations, Amnesty International has received numerous complaints about serious human rights violations that range from excessive use of force to torture, illegal raids and arbitrary detention. Similar allegations, including reports of sexual violence, have also been received by Chile’s National Institute for Human Rights.

Paramedics and demonstrators attend a youth who fell into the Mapocho river from a bridge during a police charge on protesters in Santiago, Chile, Friday Sept.2, 2020.

Actions taken by the prosecutor’s office towards the incident

The North Central Prosecutor’s Office of Santiago accused the police officer over the incident. It also blamed him of causing the youth to fall off the bridge. As such, the prosecutor’s office said it would file attempted murder charges on Sunday.

The response from the Chilean police and government

On the other hand, Enrique Monrás, chief of police in Santiago’s western area refuted the claims made by protestors. He reportedly said the youth had lost his balance and fallen over the bridge railing after the police attempted to arrest him. In view of the seriousness of the issue, the Chilean government responded that it condemns any violation of human rights. It also promised to investigate any police officer who does not comply with the protocols or the law. If found guilty, he or she will be tried in the courts.

 

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