The Azuay Province Prosecutor’s Office is investigating five cases of alleged police brutality during the protests earlier this month. All five incidents under review occurred during confrontations between police and protesters in Cuenca’s historic district.
Most of the cases are the result of photos and video posted on social media and may have involved an “overreach of duties” by police, according to prosecutors. In one case, a man lost an eye. In another an unarmed man was clubbed by police in a commercial premises.
Leonardo Amoroso, director of the Azuay fiscalia, said that details of the five incidents are being collected as well as the identity of the police officers involved. “Because of the sensitivity of the circumstances, we are taking extra care to follow all protocols in the investigation,” he said. “We understand that there was violence targeting police, including rock- and bottle-throwing, but law enforcement is trained to use restraint in its reaction.”
Mario Castro, commander of the Azuay National Police, said his office is cooperating with the investigation and he fully supports the rights of social protest as long as it is peaceful. “We all know that criminal elements were mixed in with peaceful protesters and this caused a great deal of confusion during the demonstrations,” he said. “Police have the right to protect themselves when they are attacked and this occurred in a number of instances.”