Luis Chocobar and President Mauricio Macri meeting at the Casa Rosada (Photo via Argentine Presidency)

The Cassation Court confirmed the indictment against police office Luis Chocobar, for aggravated homicide using a firearm with excessive force while on duty. The court, comprised by judges Mario Magariños, Daniel Morin and María Laura Garigós de Reboris, rejected an appeal presented by the officer’s defense, arguing that since the case does not have a definitive sentence yet, they are not to intervene – at least, not yet.

Chocobar had initially been indicted for aggravated homicide in a situation of self-defense, but an appeals court changed the charge to the current one. Sentences can vary from six months to 5 years in prison for both criminal charges.

Chocobar shot 18-year-old Juan Pablo Kukoc in December after ordering him to stop while he was running away from the scene of a crime. Seconds earlier, Kukoc had violently assaulted an American tourist, Joseph Wolek, with an underage accomplice. Wolek was stabbed ten times after resisting the robbery and had to be rushed to a hospital in critical condition.

Kukoc died in hospital four days after after being struck by two bullets. The appeals court judges who modified the initial charge indicated in their ruling from February that there was reason to believe that Chocobar’s actions were excessive given the situation.

Taking into account that the Cassation court is the highest criminal court in the country, Chocobar’s defense will not be able to appeal the indictment – it is highly unlikely the Supreme Court would accept an eventual appeal – and, unless the prosecutor suddenly changes their mind, the case will go to trial, where a tribunal comprised of three officials will decide over his fate.

Ever since the case made it to the public conversation, the government backed Chocobar’s actions. In fact, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich indicated that the government was seeking to introduce a new security doctrine and that Chocobar had acted appropriately.

Broadly put, that doctrine suggests that police officers are not primarily responsible in cases of violent confrontations, something that has been controversial at best. That being said, Bullrich repeated today her belief that the Avellaneda police officer “did what he had to do,” so it will be up to the judges to see what the final decision is.

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2018-03-22 13:11:52

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