Another new case of police brutality surfaced Tuesday after the Buenos Aires provincial force was formally denounced by the Provincial Memory Commission (CPM, in its Spanish acronym) for allegedly beating up a 17-year-old youth and torturing him with an electric cattle prod.
The incident took place over several hours last weekend in the Tolosa suburb of the provincial capital of La Plata, according to reports.
The torture reportedly aimed at inducing the youth to confess to a robbery and name his accomplices. The youth, who has not been formally named, was denied the presence of either a defence lawyer or his mother, the CPM said. According to the commission, the policemen also issued death threats to the teenager, warning him they would kill him should he speak out.
After several hours at the precinct the youth was taken for a medical check-up, which did not register any injuries. According to CPM, that procedure was superficial and the youth did not yet realise the damage done to him. Evidence for the abuse was a 25-second video made by the policemen themselves, which somehow found its way onto social networks. The crackling of the cattle prod can be heard in the video.
Denouncing the case, the human rights group called on the officers to held to account.
"Given this new case, the CPM calls for a halt to the grave violations of human rights by the police, aggravated in this period of quarantine, when deadly trigger-happy episodes, the lethal use of patrol cars, torture and abuse are all on the rise," it said in a statement.
Prosecutor Marcelo Martini is pressing charges and the Auditor-General of the Security Ministry’s Internal Affairs Department has already discharged a sergeant from the force following a complaint by precinct chief Cristian Bernhard. Other police officers face summary proceedings.
In a press communiqué Buenos Aires provincial ombudsman Guido Lorenzino described it "a case of extreme institutional gravity … taking us back to the worst years of our history, which regrettably are still being repeated today.”