BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A photograph of Argentina’s president shaking hands with an off-duty police officer who fatally shot a man in the back after he stabbed and robbed a U.S. tourist has triggered a heated debate over the limits of a crackdown on crime.
The government said the only objective of the presidential encounter was to highlight the hard work of the nation’s security forces and dispel the notion that officers should always be blamed in such incidents.
Human rights advocates, however, fear that President Mauricio Macri’s support gives police a green light to shoot first and ask questions later. They say it sets a dangerous precedent in a country haunted by memories of human rights abuses by authorities during the 1976-1983 dictatorship.
Police officer Luis Chocobar shot 18-year-old Pablo Kukoc on Dec. 8 after he injured American citizen Joe Wolek in the La Boca district of Buenos Aires, which draws tourists to stroll its narrow streets lined with colorful buildings. The scene was captured by surveillance cameras and has been played repeatedly across Argentina, where crime is a top concern.