Sun, Sep 04, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Chilean police chief quits after killing of a protester

AFP, SANTIAGO

Chilean police chief General Eduardo Gordon, right, salutes as he leaves after a meeting with Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter in Santiago, Chile, on Friday.

PHOTO: EPA

Chile’s police chief resigned on Friday after his force was implicated in the high-profile shooting death of a teenage protester that has fueled social unrest in the Andean nation.

Already under pressure over last week’s shooting, his position became untenable when the government asked him to respond to a report on Thursday that he had intervened to protect his son from charges related to a car accident.

“I have submitted my resignation to the president of the republic and he accepted it,” General Eduardo Gordon told journalists after an hour-long meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.

“This is not easy ... to have to take these measures, to maintain the trust and confidence that the nation has in the police,” Gordon said in comments carried live on state TV.

He did not give a reason for his resignation.

The death last week of 16-year-old Manuel Gutierrez further inflamed social tensions in Chile, where the government has faced a wave of student and union protests that culminated last week in a 48-hour general strike.

Gutierrez was shot dead during clashes between police and protesters in southern Santiago, as violence erupted around the country during the general strike.

The officer who allegedly fired the shots that killed the teenager has been charged and is behind bars.

Eight others have been dismissed over the incident, including a high-ranking police general who forcefully denied the day after the shooting that any officer had fired a shot.

Pinera, a conservative billionaire whose popularity soared after the spectacular rescue of 33 Chilean miners in October last year after 69 days tapped underground, is facing growing discontent.

Students, workers, ecologists and gay rights activists are among the tens of thousands who have taken to the streets in recent weeks to press demands on issues from building electric dams in Patagonia to improving education.

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