A man accused of killing two university students after a protest in Chile was ordered by a judge on Friday to remain in custody while prosecutors collect evidence over the next 90 days.
Giuseppe Briganti, 20, is accused of shooting two young men studying in Vina del Mar, Exequiel Borbaran, 18, and Diego Guzman, 25, on Thursday, in the port city of Valparaiso.
In the three-hour hearing on Friday, prosecutors said that there were 15 witnesses who identified the suspect as the shooter, who resorted to violence when the victims tried to paint graffiti and put up a poster on the side of a building.
The alleged shooter Briganti, according to General Julio Pineda of Valparaiso police force, is the son of the owner of a property in the building, located on the first floor.
The Associated Press reports that police claim to have found a 9mm gun and 42 grams of cocaine in Briganti’s home, but the suspect rejects accusations.
Defending students’ freedom of assembly, Interior Minister Jorge Burgos said, “The government won’t stand for actions of this type, the government guarantees the marches’ freedom of movement” and stressed that “The alleged perpetrator of these deaths has no connection to with the police who were near the student march in our port.”
Students across Chile were protesting on Thursday to demand education reform; one of the protests took place in Valparaiso, 130 km northwest of Santiago.
Students demand greater participation in reforming what is reportedly a largely privatised and highly unequal education system.
Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s president, promised before her reelection that from 2016, university education would be free for the poorest 70 percent of the population.
Students, on the other hand, are frustrated that their voices have not been heard.
“They don’t listen to us on the reforms. We want to be heard. We’re disillusioned. It’s the same every time, the reforms get gridlocked before they accomplish anything truly good,” said a Santiago protest participant, the 17-year old Maria Jose.
The BBC reports that while these student demonstrations have a tendency to turn into clashes between youth and police forces, until Thursday only one person had been killed, in 2011.