First Chilean police officer in court for protest eye injury

2 min

Santiago (AFP)

A Chilean police officer appeared in court on Friday to face charges over wounding a protester's eye, the first trial related to the many eye injuries reported during Chile's protests.

The officer, Captain Pablo Carvajal, was formally accused of having fired buckshot in the left eye of a protester at a distance of two to five meters (6.5 to 16 feet).

Prosecutor Ximena Chong said Carvajal opened fire after the victim threw a blunt object at a police vehicle while participating in a protest in downtown Santiago.

The incident, which occurred in late October, caused eye damage, but no loss of vision to date, Chong said.

Chile has since October been in the midst of its worst social unrest since democracy replaced the country's military dictatorship in 1990.

Furious protesters have taken to the streets, outraged at President Sebastian Pinera's right-wing government and inequality in the country where elites control much of the wealth.

A month after the crisis began, Chilean police suspended the use of buckshot against protesters as an anti-riot tool, specifying that it was only for use in instances of extreme danger.

More than 400 people have been injured in the eye since the protests began, according to the National Human Rights Institute (INDH), an independent public body.

A total of 29 people have died since the start of the crisis, while several thousand have been wounded.