ASUNCION – Four police officers were detained in Asuncion on Saturday for shooting death a young activist of the opposition Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA) during a night of protests against the Senate’s decision to allow a presidential re-election, an official of the Interior Ministry told EFE.
The violence began after 25 senators voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to allow a presidential re-election and has led to the firing this Saturday of Interior Minister Tadeo Rojas and Police Chief Crispulo Sotelo.
The chief detainee is Officer Gustavo Florentini, who has confessed to his superiors that he shot at Rodrigo Quintana, 25, according to the source.
The official also said that the investigation is focused on finding out why Florentin, a member of the police anti-riot squad, was carrying a shotgun loaded with “lead bullets instead of rubber bullets,” since regulations ban the use of lethal ammunition by this unit.
The four detainees are currently giving their depositions to the prosecutor handling the case, and will be held in preventive detention at Asuncion’s Specialized Police Force.
Quintana died at midnight Friday after police barged into PLRA headquarters with their guns blazing and he suffered nine bullet wounds.
The violence erupted in Paraguay’s capital late on Friday after news broke that 25 senators had passed a constitutional amendment to authorize re-election of a president during a closed-door session.
Current legislation in Paraguay limits the nation’s president to just one term, in line with measures brought in after the fall in 1989 of the Stroessner dictatorship in the landlocked South American country.
The measure, if passed, could benefit Paraguay’s incumbent president, Horacio Cartes of the right-wing Colorado Party, whose tenure was due to end in 2018.
Members of the Guasu Front, a leftist coalition, also backed the bill as it could benefit their former president Fernando Lugo who was impeached in 2012.
The PLRA and other opposition parties decried the vote as an attempted coup d’etat.
President Cartes also used Twitter to share an image of a statement, in which he called for calm and unity against the “few barbarians” who wanted to damage the peace and well-being of Paraguay.
Firefighters extinguished the fire set by rioters in Congress, which sustained heavy material damage, while demonstrators moved to the National Pantheon of the Heroes, also in the Paraguayan historic city center.