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NEWS > 06 October 2007

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Arrest of police officers trig
MUMBAI: The arrest of three police officers on Tuesday for allegedly killing three persons in a fake encounter outside Ahmedabad has opened up a can of worms, bringing up questions about Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders' responsibility for the shootings and raising doubts about other police "encounters" in the State.

The three police officers D.G. Vanjara (DIG, Border Range, Gujarat), Rajkumar Pandyan (Superintendent of Police, Intelligence Bureau, Gujarat) and Dinesh Kumar (Superintendent of Police, Alwar, Rajasthan) were charged with murder for the fake enco... Read more

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06 October 2007
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Puerto Rico Police Accused of

MAYAGUEZ, Puerto Rico Mistrust of police has been ingrained for years in this bleak coastal town, where a basketball court mural shows a girl running from a baton-wielding officer under the slogan: "To be poor is not a crime."

So there was some sense of vindication when the FBI arrested 10 officers this summer, accusing them of planting drugs on residents of housing projects and other poor neighborhoods in one of Puerto Rico's worst police corruption cases.

The reach of the scandal became apparent this week when the local Justice Department recommended throwing out cases against 51 people accused of drug offenses in Mayaguez, a town on Puerto Rico's western shores.

The police unit in Mayaguez considered residents of housing projects near their precinct as "targets of opportunity," said Luis Fraticelli, the top FBI official in Puerto Rico, in an interview with The Associated Press.

"They would drive by and they didn't like the kid or whatever, so they would decide to go plant drugs on him," said Fraticelli.

The officers have proclaimed their innocence, but the island's 8,000-strong force is reeling from accusations of corruption. Fraticelli noted there were nearly 50 federal indictments of police last year.

Just last month, five members of a police unit in the capital, San Juan, were accused of protecting drug traffickers. Four members of an anti-narcotics unit in the northern town of Arecibo were arrested by the FBI for allegedly planting evidence.

In an episode that was caught on videotape and shown on YouTube and local TV, one officer shot an unarmed man point-blank, killing him as he lay on the ground. Another policeman allegedly shot to death his own supervisor inside a police station. Both cases have resulted in first-degree murder charges against the officers.

Puerto Rico's governor and its police chief recently announced a $14 million plan for increased background checks, drug testing and training for police.

But some residents of the Candelaria complex in Mayaguez, a warren of gray concrete buildings where drug use is rife, say the move comes too late to overcome mistrust.

Armed with a video camera, Virgen Carrasquillo tried to catch police manhandling drug suspects during daylight raids. Officers regularly stopped her on her motor scooter and made threats about her filming, she said.

Days after she filed a harassment complaint in June, police arrived with a search warrant. After ransacking her apartment, they cited her husband for possession of cocaine that she claims was planted.

"It was all lies," said Carrasquillo, a 30-year-old dance teacher with studs piercing her lip and eyebrow.

Her husband, Xuan Carravallo, 32, was released on bail and returned to selling bottled water at a traffic light outside Candelaria's gates. His case is among 51 that the island's Justice Department says should be thrown out.

According to the federal grand jury indictment handed down in August, police fabricated cases against potentially innocent people over three years. The officers now face between 10 years and life in prison.

Fraticelli said the officers did not seek money, but would not elaborate on their motives.

Prosecutors are reviewing dozens of cases that already went to trial, though Justice Secretary Roberto Sanchez Ramos said few if any people were sentenced to prison on evidence from the Mayaguez officers.
 

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