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ARGENTINA | 24-05-2019 19:46

Demonstrators demand justice in protest against police brutality

Public uproar at San Miguel del Monte deaths prompt hundreds of people to stage a march "against the trigger-happy" in the streets of Buenos Aires.

Demonstrators took to the streets this evening to protest police brutality, in the wake of news officers fired shots that led to the deaths of three teenagers and a young man in a car chase.

Authorities have now removed 13 officers from the force and detained seven of them pending an investigation. The case has caused a public uproar that prompted hundreds of people to stage a march "against the trigger-happy" in the streets of Buenos Aires.

The car with the 22-year-old man and two teens aged 13 to 14 was driving Monday in the town of San Miguel del Monte, about 75 miles (120 kilometres) south of Buenos Aires. Police said a suspicious car had been reported and the car with the teens failed to stop on police orders.

A chase ensued and shots were fired by the police. The car crashed into a truck and the four were killed. Another teenager was seriously injured.

"We've determined the deaths were produced by the collision that arose from the speed and destabilization of the vehicle generated by the chase and the shots," said Buenos Aires Attorney General Julio Conte Grand.

Initial investigations show that a bullet pierced through one of the victims and several bullet shells from guns carried by the police officers were found on the site.

"There was no reason for them to shoot," he said.

Buenos Aires Province Security Minister Cristian Ritondo said police procedure was poorly carried out and that it won't go unpunished.

Human rights advocates joined Friday's demonstration demanding justice. They blame an iron-fisted crime policy carried out by President Mauricio Macri's administration, and they say the latest deaths could set a dangerous precedent in a country haunted by memories of human rights crimes during its 1976-1983 dictatorship.

Last year, a photograph of Macri shaking hands with Luis Chocobar, an off-duty police officer who fatally shot a man in the back after the attacker stabbed and robbed a US tourist, sparked a heated debate over the limits of a crackdown on crime.

At the time, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said the photo ratified the government's position that security forces are not always guilty and even celebrated that citizens under trial for taking justice into their own hands have been absolved.

But she has been highly critical of police in the latest deaths.

"If what happened is verified, I wouldn't even call them police officers," Bullrich said. "Police officers who behave like thieves and killers will be treated like thieves and killers."

- TIMES/AP

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