One month after thirteen police officers were sentenced for the 2020 murder of Valentino Blas Correas (17) in Córdoba, his mother Soledad Laciar has co-drafted a bill that aims to stop cases like that from happening again. Named Ley Blas (“Blas Law”) after her son, the bill was presented yesterday in Congress.
“I will keep fighting beyond Blas,” Laciar told the Herald one day before the verdict.
The bill aims to modify the Penal Code to increase prison sentences for illegal possession of firearms by police officers, and to create a new offense — planting weapons at crime scenes to “deviate investigations.”
If approved, the bill would also allow the “whistleblower law” — which reduces sentences to those who may have committed a crime but provided information — to be applied in such cases.
Laciar had the idea during the trial, where it was proved that a police officer had planted a weapon to incriminate her son. Two months after the murder, that police officer told the investigation that she had done so under orders from her superiors.
“Throughout the trial, I noticed this: for a police officer who had an illegal weapon, for one who planted a weapon, for one who tampered with a scene, the maximum penalty was up to 6 years,” Laciar told the Herald. “That is not enough to discourage the rest of the police officers [from doing something like that], since it does not generate the feeling that it is a painful punishment.”
If the law is passed, the sentence for illegal possession of firearms by police officers would be eight to twelve years of prison. The sentence for police officers tampering with crime scenes would be ten to twenty years. Both crimes would also be sentenced with “absolute and perpetual disqualification for any public function and for private security tasks.”
“It’s just a first step. There are a lot of other things that we can do,” Laciar said. “But this was something we could tackle head-on right now,” Laciar said.
The bill was presented yesterday in Congress by Córdoba’s National Deputy Gabriela Brouwer de Koning from the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR). She is still waiting for confirmation regarding which parliamentary commission it will be debated.
Brouwer de Koning told the Herald that the law was drafted by a big technical team, including criminologists, security experts, lawyers, and people working in the justice system.
Both Laciar and Brouwer de Koning told the Herald that the issue of “institutional violence” goes beyond political differences.
“It’s more important than the political gap,” Laciar said, referring to Argentina’s infamous political divide known as the grieta. The law is supported by members of different political parties across the political spectrum, including the Republican Proposal (PRO), Radical Civic Union Party (UCR) and the Frente de Todos.
Blas’ murder attracted the attention of international media outlets, organizations, and the national government. “It was a turning point regarding the visibility of police violence in Córdoba,” Amnesty International’s deputy director Paola García Rey told the press after the verdict. The national Secretariat of Human Rights was an observer and amicus curiae in the case.
“I think I need to understand that my son left to leave something big behind,” Laciar told the Herald. “That is what my family and I have set ourselves as a goal — that the fact that we only enjoyed him for only 17 years was not in vain. I know that, wherever he is, he is proud of what we are doing.”