By Dave Sherwood
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile’s independent human rights watchdog said on Saturday it would file a formal complaint for murder against police officers who allegedly prevented paramedics from attending a heart attack victim amid a protest Friday.
Security forces firing tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons made it impossible for rescue workers to properly treat the victim, Chile’s publicly-funded National Institute for Human Rights said.
Twenty-nine year old Abel Acuna died shortly after at a nearby Santiago hospital.
Both the ambulance and a rescue worker were hit by projectiles as they attempted to help Acuna, the institute said.
The case joins more than 1,000 others currently under investigation by public prosecutors. Accusations of abuses by security forces ranging from torture to sexual violence have multiplied during weeks of anti-government unrest.
The protests in Chile began over a hike in metro fares but quickly spun out of control, often devolving into riots, looting and arson that have left more than 20 dead and thousands injured.
Sergio Micco, director of the human rights agency, called the incident “extremely serious,” adding that this was the sixth case since protests began of police hampering the work of rescuers.
“This is not an isolated incident,” Micco said.
Chile’s police force could not be immediately reached for comment. They have previously said they are following protocols and are properly trained for riot control.
(Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Daniel Wallis)