SANTIAGO – Former Carabineros Sergeant Carlos Alarcón told prosecutors that he and his fellow servicemen were coached to hide the truth from investigators in the death of Mapuche leader Camilo Catrillanca Marín on November 14 in La Araucania, it was reported Tuesday.
“There are people who made us lie, we gave false statements,” Alarcón reportedly said in reference to his first interview with prosecutors on December 2.
Alarcón, who is believed to be the member of the carabineros elite Gope squad -also known as the Jungle Commando- who fired the shot that caused Catrillanca’s death, testified before the regional prosecuting team of Cristian Paredes and Roberto Garrido.
Although the records of this deposition are still withheld from public knowledge, parts of it have reportedly leaked to the press Tuesday, particularly the passages where Alarcón points fingers at Carabineros lawyer Cristián Inostroza Quiñiñir and then Gope officer-in-command Major Manuel Valdivieso as the masterminds behind the unified statement delivered by the agents who took part in the deployment in Temucuicui that resulted in Catrillanca’s death.
At that time, they jointly claimed to have fired dissuasive shots to scare “the antisocial ones” so that they would cease to fire back and mentioned that none of the law enforcement agents was carrying a video recording device. But both the shootout and the absence of a camera have been ruled out by investigators.
According to Alarcón, on December 3, this version was agreed upon at a meeting at 9:00 pm in the Pailahueque police station. “The meeting in Pailahueque must have lasted about an hour before going to testify to the Collipulli Prosecutor’s Office and during that time the lawyer Cristian Inostroza told us what we had to say and Major Valdivieso supported him. Also on that occasion […] Inostroza asked us if we were [carrying] cameras. Raúl Ávila said he was … and the lawyer Inostroza told us that the version would be that no one walked with cameras,” Alarcón explained.
“We went to the Collipulli Prosecutor’s Office where we gave a statement giving the version that the lawyer and my Major fed us. After giving my statement at dawn on November 15, on November 16, my General Director of Carabineros Hermes Soto went to Pailahueque. I was very distressed to tell my General the truth of what had happened, but the lawyer Inostroza and my Major Valdivieso insisted that I had to maintain the version we had indicated at the beginning. I remember that My Major […] told me to be calm, that everything would turn out well, but when I told him the truth he asked me if I wanted to go to prison. He told me not to be weak and to stand firm,” Alarcón added.
Both Valdivieso and Inostroza have been expelled from the Carabineros force. And earlier this month President Sebastián Piñera ordered the Gope group to withdraw from La Araucania and all government forces to intensify their training in human rights.
Meanwhile, Javier Jara, the lawyer of former Sgt Raúl Ávila -who was carrying the GoPro camera-, argued that “I do not know what Alarcón declared, but I think that the only thing that can be done here is [to] tell the truth, because in this death there was no homicidal intention, and it would have been clear if the institutional and political leadership had gone in that direction” from the beginning.
Besides Ávila and Alarcón, former Officers Patricio Sepúlveda and Braulio Valenzuela are under investigation over Catrillanca’s death.
Carabineros General Director Hermes Soto harshly criticized Alarcón, who “had 25 years of service in the institution, is an adult person, has enough maturity to determine what is right and wrong.”
Soto added that if Alarcón “determined to do what he did, he was wrong. He is not a child, therefore, he cannot be pressured by anyone” and “he should have complied with what the law authorizes and mandates.”–MercoPress