The Colombian doctor was released after he allegedly killed three men who tried to rob him on a pedestrian bridge in Bogotá. The event, which became a subject of national discussion, sparked a dispute in public opinion as to what is and isn’t self-defense, as well as the carrying of firearms.
The man was released after voluntarily surrendering to the authorities hours after the event occurred. Although the public does not yet know the identity of the health professional, there is speculation that he is a well-known doctor in the Colombian capital.
According to the local authorities aware of the case, the doctor was carrying a licensed weapon because he had allegedly received threats. It should be noted that, despite his release, the man will continue to be associated with the investigation while it is on. If it is established that he acted in self-defense, he will be acquitted.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, the assailants who died in the act had criminal records for the crimes of theft, carrying weapons, and impersonating police officers to commit various crimes.
Acting in self-defense
The debate regarding the death of the three assailants has undoubtedly has flared up those who hold the view that citizens should not be allowed to carry weapons. Despite the uneasiness of a section of public opinion, there was also significant support for the doctor.
Le pido el favor al abogado @DELAESPRIELLAE que tome el caso del médico que en legítima defensa ajustició a tres crimínales en Bogotá. Me comprometo a ayudar a financiar parte de los gastos legales que esto implique. No más infamia, por Dios! La gente decente tiene derechos!
— Alberto Bernal (@AlbertoBernalLe) February 1, 2020
The first announcement that supported the thesis of self-defense was made by the mayor of Bogota, Claudia Lopez, who announced that she had “the report of what happened and the Attorney General’s Office and the Police are conducting the investigation with the person who legitimately defended himself.” Lopez also reported that they are determining the origin of the criminal structure and if it has other criminal networks operating in the city.
On the other hand, renowned jurists assured that the case fits perfectly within what is known as self-defense, which is regulated by the Criminal Code. However, they explained that the time, manner, and place of the events must be examined so that the judge can assess what happened and pass a lawful decision.
“A person who is going to steal with a knife or firearm is willing to assault or kill. If there are three, there is more reason to think that one’s life is at risk. In that case, he is not defending himself from theft, he is defending his life,” said criminal lawyer Iván Cancino.
Further, criminal lawyer Abelardo de La Espriella said it was a legal act and went ahead and congratulated the doctor for the action: “Now let’s not go out there and tell some people that these are peaceful doves. They should stop indulging in this stupidity and know and understand that the action was carried out in self-defense.”
Aplausos de pie para el patriota que le dio de baja a estos tres bandidos. Ahora que no salgan a decir algunos, que se trata de mansas palomas. Y para que no incurran en más majaderías, sepan y entiendan que claramente operó la Legítima Defensa. Fin del comunicado. (A.D.L.E) pic.twitter.com/kAlR1e4gqn
— DE LA ESPRIELLA Lawyers (@DELAESPRIELLAE) February 1, 2020
What is self-defense?
Article 32 of the Criminal Code talks about the absence of criminal responsibility and refers to 12 cases in which a person cannot be criminally prosecuted. Among these 12 specific cases is self-defense: “It is necessary to defend one’s own or another’s right against current or imminent unjust aggression, provided that the defense is proportionate to the aggression. Self-defense is presumed in the case of a person who opposes a stranger who, improperly, tries to enter or has entered his or her room or immediate surroundings.”
For the criminal lawyer Francisco Bernate, self-defense is a fundamental right that any citizen who is at risk can exercise. He stated that the judicial authorities are the ones who must establish with the evidence if the doctor reacted in such a way of defending his life.
1/ La #LegitimaDefensa es un derecho fundamental, individual como el voto, o colectivo como el derecho a un ambiente sano. Es una institución tan vieja como el derecho mismo.
— Francisco Bernate (@fbernate) February 1, 2020
He added that in a situation where the authorities are not there to protect citizens, the Constitution empowers them to protect their fundamental rights, such as their lives or their property.