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ARGENTINA | 26-11-2018 11:57

After football violence, Peronist leader Pichetto calls for stronger police powers

"If the French police had to deal with an event like this, they would throw real punches", Senator Miguel Pichetto said.

Last week's violent clashes in Buenos Aires involving football hooligans from opposing clubs has prompted the leader of the Peronist minority in the Senate, Miguel Pichetto, to question some of the restrictions placed on Argentina's police and security forces when it comes to using force.

Suspected hooligans from the River Plate club on Saturday threw rocks at the official Boca bus, injuring some Boca players, while earlier in the week All Boys hooligans attacked police after ugly scenes at their Floresta stadium during a match against Atlanta.

The incidents have raised concerns about security ahead of the G20 leaders summit, which begins Friday in the capital.

"It's very difficult in a country like this. There has been a cultural process in the last 12 years which prohibited security personnel from using force. You can't use force in Argentina. That phrase is prohibited. Our values are totally distorted", Pichetto said Sunday during an interview on the Animales Sueltos programme.

"If the French police had to deal with an event like this, they would throw real punches", the Senator representing Río Negro province said.

Pichetto took the opportunity to level broad criticism at the governments of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner, which he represented as a Senator, saying he opposed the "cultural vision of the left whereby the police cannot hit back if they are attacked, whereby police operations are always questioned".

"This happens on a daily basis", he said.

"Argentina has gone backwards. And all of us who have been in different parts of public life must make a mea culpa and take responsibility for this. It covers all sectors of society", the Senator added.

SCANDALOUS WEEK IN FOOTBALL

Saturday's Superclásico Copa Libertadores final second leg between arch rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors was suspended, after an attack on the Boca Juniors team bus that left players affected by smoke inhalation from tear gas and injuries from shattered glass from broken windows.

A Boca official told the press that the pepper spray came from the police trying to disperse River fans, though others suggested it had been thrown at the bus.

"There was a lack of control in the last streets close to the Monumental. The police were overwhelmed by all the vandalism and had to disperse the River fans with tear gas," said the unnamed official. "Because of the wind and the broken windows, it entered the bus."

Earlier last week, the Club Atlético All Boys' stadium was closed after 16 policemen and three fans were injured in violent clashes during a match hosted by the Primera B Metropolitana side.

Images of the clashes were filmed by neighbours who live in nearest high-rise apartment buildings.

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) condemned the violence and said the club may face disciplinary action.

-TIMES

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