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Colombian police brutality protests turn deadly

“Although there is no curfew in Bogota, we ask that by no later than seven o’clock, all those who can, please stay at home,” Lopez said in a Facebook Live broadcast.

Seven people aged between 17 and 27 years old were confirmed killed during the protests in Bogota, and another two in Soacha. The circumstances surrounding their deaths are being investigated, authorities said.

A demonstrator kicks a police officer during protests sparked by the death of a man after he was detained by police at the Villa Luz neighbourhood in Bogota.

A demonstrator kicks a police officer during protests sparked by the death of a man after he was detained by police at the Villa Luz neighbourhood in Bogota.Credit:AP

Over 60 people suffered gun-related injuries, the mayor’s office said. Lopez compared the unrest to the worst days of Colombia’s armed conflict.

The video of Ordonez shows him pinned to the ground by police officers and subjected to successive electric shocks as he begs, “please, no more.”

Police say Ordonez was found drinking alcohol in the street with friends, in violation of coronavirus distancing rules. He was taken to a police station in western Bogota where his family alleges he suffered further abuse. He died later in hospital.

The two officers involved have been suspended pending an investigation, the government has said.

Bystanders and police gather outside a police station that was set on fire during overnight protests.

Bystanders and police gather outside a police station that was set on fire during overnight protests.Credit:AP

Ordonez’s family called for justice and peaceful protest.

“He was murdered by the police officers,” his former sister-in-law, Eliana Marcela Garzon, told Reuters. “We don’t want (deaths) in a country already full of conflict, we want justice.”

Police reform is needed, Garzon said, especially for the future of children like her now-fatherless nephews.

“I don’t want them to grow up feeling like there isn’t justice in this country,” she said. “I want them to grow up knowing laws are followed.”

Duque has said abuse of authority should not be tolerated, but the government called for Colombians not to “stigmatise” police officers and appealed for calm.

“What we are facing here is a mass act of vandalism and violence,” defence minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo told journalists earlier on Thursday.

Bogota’s police will be reinforced with 1600 more officers, more than half of whom will come from other regions, and 300 soldiers, the defence ministry said.

An effort by labour unions earlier this week to revive mass protests seen last year against Duque’s economic and social policies garnered a tepid response amid ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

But Ordonez’s death could fuel renewed widespread outrage against the police, who were roundly criticised last year after a teenage protester was fatally injured by a riot squad projectile.

Reuters

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