Córdoba police officers Lucas Gómez and Javier Alarcón got life sentences today for the unprovoked killing of 17-year-old Valentín Blas Correas on August 6, 2020, and its cover-up.
Another eleven police officers, accused of participating in the cover-up, received sentences ranging from one to five years.
The prosecutors of the case, Fernando López Villagra and Marcelo Hidalgo, had asked for life sentences for both Gómez and Alarcón. They were accused of aggravated homicide due to them being policemen and for using firearms, and of attempted homicide of Blas’ friends.
“It was a massacre,” the prosecutors said during the trial, which started last September.
Correas’ murder was one of the most prominent cases against the Córdoba police force. On August 13, 2020, Blas’ brother, Juan, gathered 10,000 people for a silent march in protest against police violence. The case also received international attention as NGO Amnesty International called for justice and cited the case in its annual human rights report as an example of excessive use of force.
It also changed Soledad Laciar’s – Blas’ mother – life.“I realized where I was when the [Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo] invited me to the march of March 24,” Laciar, told the Herald. “I said to myself: this is my life now.”
The night of the murder
On the night of August 6, 2020, Correas was heading toward the city center in a white Fiat Argo with four of his school friends. But their carefree night out took a turn for the worse when they argued with two men on a motorcycle, who accused the teenagers of making a dangerous maneuver. A few minutes later, the group had their first interaction with the Córdoba police at a police checkpoint.
The teenagers and the police officers argued, since the motorcyclists had alerted the policemen about them. One of the officers allegedly took his weapon out, and the driver panicked and stepped on the gas pedal. The policemen shot at the car and one of the bullets went through the back of the car.
“They shot me, but it doesn’t hurt,” Blas told his friends.
The kids sped through Córdoba to the Aconcagua clinic, in the center of the city, but nobody received them there. Moreover, a few blocks later, another police officer stopped them and made them get out of the car even though they said his friend was dying.
Blas succumbed to his wounds around that time.