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Córdoba: police chief accused of threats

In December, Governor José Manuel de la Sota appointed Julio César Suárez as police chief to put an end to the security crisis in the district.

Local journalist says he caught Suárez on tape saying ‘I’m going to take care of you’

Córdoba’s police chief Julio César Suárez has been accused of threatening a local journalist, who yesterday said he caught the policeman on tape telling him: “I’m going to take care of you.”

Journalist Dante Leguizamón, who works for the Radio and Television Services (SRT) of Córdoba’s National University (UNC), said Suárez made the threat after he decided to follow the story of an incident involving an allegedly trigger-happy police officer in the Los Cortaderos neighbourhood of Córdoba’s capital city.

“I left the neighbourhood and when I came home I received a call from the newsroom telling me that the police chief (Julio César Suárez) had turned up along with other officers,” Leguizamón told radio programme Dadyman.

“I caught the moment he shouted at me saying he wanted to talk to me. When I suggested we talk some other day, he asks for my home address and keeps on shouting,” the journalist added. “I told him to calm down and offered to meet him some other time, but by the end of the conversation he said: ‘If you don’t come to talk to me, I’m going to take care of you’.”

Leguizamón revealed he had already filed a criminal complaint with a prosecutor to investigate whether Suárez’s statements can be considered a criminal act.

He also said he sleeps with fear.

“Last Friday night I saw a police car with its sirens on and I was paranoid about what could happen to me,” the journalist concluded.

‘A force created against the poorest’

Born in the city of Río Ceballos, Leguizamón works for the Radio and Television Services conglomerate run by the local university. He also writes for the news portal Anfibia.

Despite the threats, Leguizamón insisted on criticizing Suárez for being part “of a security policy created against the poorest, to make the middle class feel safe while innocent kids are being arrested just because of the way they look.”

“Eighty-five percent of those cases involved innocent people who have done nothing,” said the journalist, who also blasted the provincial Code of Misdemeanours for enabling police inspectors to keep people under arrest for between five and 39 days without a court order.

He said such policies are “undoubtedly” backed by Córdoba Governor José Manuel de la Sota.

A long-time scandal

In September last year, police whistleblower Juan Francisco Viarnes — who had been arrested on an unrelated crime — said that police chiefs in the district had links to drug lords and offered information in return for being allowed to keep a portion of the drugs seized in raids.

His claims came as part of an investigation led by federal prosecutor Enrique Senestrari, who later announced that unregistered drugs had been found during a raid carried out at the headquarters of the Drugs Unit.

Police chief Rafael Sosa and officers Franco Argüello, Alfredo Saine, Mario Osorio and Fabián Peralta Dáttoli were arrested and accused of conspiracy. The investigation remains open.

In December, after months of uninterrupted crisis that by then also included widespread looting in the district, De la Sota reshuffled his Cabinet.

One of his first decisions was to fire Police Chief César Almada and to appointed Suárez, who previously worked in highway policing. The dissident Peronist leader said the newly-appointed police chief had the responsibility of “bringing back peace to the province.”

Herald staff

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