Buenos Aires: Nine law-enforcement officers were arrested Saturday in the northern Argentine province of Tucuman for their alleged role in looting that occurred amid a police strike, judicial officials said.
The police are accused of collaborating in or instigating the looting of commercial establishments in Tucuman Monday and Tuesday while officers were on strike to press demands for pay hikes, the official Telam news agency reported.
Tucuman was one of the Argentine provinces affected in recent days by police job actions and violent disturbances that left 11 dead nationwide.
Order was gradually restored after officers were granted pay hikes of up to 50 percent. In the case of Tucuman, police received a salary increase of 35 percent.
Federal and provincial courts now are investigating the possible role of police in the wave of looting that occurred.
Tucuman`s provincial government has filed a criminal complaint for sedition against police, accusing them of adopting an illegal form of protest.
Fifty civilians also have been arrested in Tucuman for looting, while authorities have conducted scores of raids in search of stolen merchandise.
On Thursday, Argentina`s government called for a thorough investigation into the deadly disturbances.
"The full weight of the law must fall not only on the perpetrators (of the looting) but also the intellectual authors," Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich, who met Thursday with members of the Supreme Court, told reporters.
A "profound debate" is needed on police reform because the country cannot be "at the mercy of groups that seize other people`s property or use extortion to press salary demands", he added.
"A deliberate action of this nature cannot be carried out in isolation. The modus operandi makes us believe this was a strategy that merits an investigation by the judiciary," Capitanich said.
The Argentine government, meanwhile, has made preparations to prevent looting on the outskirts of Buenos Aires Dec 19-20, the 12th anniversary of violent civil unrest and rioting that erupted amid a severe economic crisis.