CELS went before the Supreme Court as amicus curie in the appeal filed by the family of Carlos Fuentealba, a teacher killed during a demonstration in Neuquén province.
The amicus brief submitted by CELS calls on the Supreme Court to bear in mind that Fuentealba’s death occurred during a protest and that it is the state’s duty to guarantee the free exercise of this right. Furthermore, the arguments put forth in the brief point out that the repression occurred while the teachers were dispersing peacefully, further aggravating police violation of standards regarding use of force by repressing protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets. Fuentealba was wounded by a tear gas cartridge fired at close range that hit in him the head. He died a few hours later from serious injuries.
Despite these arguments, Neuquén judicial authorities ruled to close the case against the police in charge of the operation and the subsequent investigation into criminal responsibility with regard to the incident. During the oral trial, despite the allegations in the complaint, the court limited responsibility to the material author of the shooting. Nevertheless, both the family and unions supporting them pointed to the political responsibility held by the chiefs of the operation.
The amicus brief indicates that the court’s resolutions are in violation of both effective judicial protection of the Fuentealba family as well as the state’s duty to investigate when agents of the security forces are involved.