Paraguay officials fired over opposition leader′s death | News | DW | 02.04.2017
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Paraguay officials fired over opposition leader's death

Paraguay's interior minister has been fired after an opposition party leader was killed in protests. Violence broke out after the Senate passed a bill that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for a second term.

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Paraguay interior minister, police chief fired

Following the killing of a young opposition party leader and violent overnight clashes on Friday, Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes on Saturday fired Interior Minister Miguel Tadeo Rojas and top police official Crispulo Sotelo.

In the early hours of Saturday, 25-year-old Rodrigo Quintana was shot and killed at the headquarters of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party - a different location to where most protests took place.

CCTV evidence

Security camera footage shows people in a corridor running away from police before Quintana is apparently shot from behind and falls to the ground.

Seconds later, a policeman carrying a gun is seen stepping on Quintana, who is lying face-down on the ground.

Before stepping down on Saturday, police commander Sotelo identified Gustavo Florentin as the police officer responsible for Quintana's death and said he had been arrested.

Violent protests initially broke out Friday at Paraguay's Congress after the country's Senate secretly voted for a constitutional amendment to allow presidential re-election. Paraguay's constitution has prohibited re-election since the document was passed in 1992 after the fall of a brutal 35-year dictatorship three years earlier.

Confrontations over the weekend escalated with protesters storming the building and setting fire to furniture and paper. Police used water cannon and fired rubber bullets to drive protesters away from the building while firefighters extinguished the blazes inside. According to authorities, some 30 people were injured in the clashes.

Canceled sessions

Due to Friday's violence, Saturday's and Monday's sessions of the Chamber of Deputies were canceled.

"We will evaluate the situation on Tuesday," said legislative president Hugo Velazquez.

Cartes said that Vice Minister of Internal Security Lorenzo Lezcano would replace Rojas as interior minister, and police subcommander Luis Carlos Rojas would take over for Sotelo.

ksb/gsw (AP, Reuters)

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