Argentina: Two Police Officers Arrested for Murder of Toba (Qom) Man

On November 23, 2010 a violent clash broke out between the Toba people and police forces near the town of Laguna Blanca. That incident resulted in the death of two individuals — one Toba man and one police officer. On Monday, September 5th, Judge Santos Gabriel Garzón ordered the arrest of two police officers and charged two Toba individuals for their respective roles in that incident. The two officers were charged with murder of the Toba man, while the two Toba men were charged with lesser crimes.

The judge’s decision to arrest and charge various individuals comes more than nine months after the violent incident in question occurred. In November of 2010, the Argentine government had plans to annex land and build a school, but the land in question was the ancestral land of the Toba people — specifically, of the Qom community. Members from the Qom community blocked national route 86 in protest on the 23rd of November. When police officers arrived to remove the protestors, violence broke out. Ultimately, when the fighting ended, two men were dead – Roberto López of the Qom community, and Officer Heber Falcón.

Based on the evidence made available to the judge — including a police report showing that four bullets were likely fired during the eviction — Judge Garzón had four individuals arrested. First, Officers Gustavo Coronel and Orlando Paredes were charged with the murder of López. In addition, Felix Díaz, the leader of the Qom community, was charged with “inciting criminal activity” for his part in the events. And a second Qom man, Ricardo Coyipe, was charged with “armed assault resulting in injury.” The judge said that more charges could still be forthcoming, pending further investigation.

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Posted in: Argentina, Toba
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