BUENOS AIRES: An Argentine police cadet died and 14 others were taken to hospital after a training exercise in which recruits were subjected to mistreatment in extreme heat, officials and family members said Monday.
Authorities in the northeastern province of La Rioja have opened a criminal investigation and suspended several local police officials. Eight have been placed under arrest.
Nineteen-year-old Emmanuel Garay died on Saturday from organ failure. He was being treated for extreme dehydration after collapsing on the first day of training.
Juan Luna, a member of La Rioja’s provincial government, said temperatures had reached 40 degrees Celsius.
“What happened is really serious. We are very concerned. It should not have happened,” he told Argentina’s La Patriada radio, adding that cadets had been refused water during the exercise.
Luna said that 15 cadets were hospitalized in the first three days of training.
Argentina’s Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said on Twitter that “we must all redouble our efforts so that these practices are not repeated.”
Garay’s brother Roque said the episode seemed like a tale from Argentina’s years of military dictatorship.
“What they did to the kids that day was not training,” he said.
“There are other guys who are fighting for their lives.”
The fiancee of one of the cadets told the TN channel that he was recovering gradually after being brought to hospital “totally dehydrated”.
“He couldn’t stand up any more. You wouldn’t do that even to an animal.”
The incident has been compared to the death in 1994 of a young conscript, Omar Carrasco, during a training exercise, which sparked a political row that resulted in the abolition of compulsory military service in Argentina.