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A businessman working within the construction sector who shot a person trying to rob him on Saturday, 62-year-old Pedro González, was released from custody today after Judge Fabiana Palmaghini determined he acted in legitimate and legal self defense.

The Argentine Criminal Code establishes an action of this kind needs to fulfill three requisites in order to be considered legal self defense. There needs to be:

  • An illegal aggression
  • Lack of provocation on the part of the defendant
  • Rational need for the action used in order to prevent or repel an aggression.

Should this be the case, the person defending themselves can be absolved from the charges or have their sentences reduced.

On Saturday afternoon Pedro González shot Víctor Palazzo three times after Palazzo tried to break into his pickup truck and rob him. According to Infobae, police are investigating if this was a random robbery attempt or if the thief had prior intelligence, since González was carrying AR $200,000 to pay his employees working on a construction site in the neighborhood of Caballito.

Palazzo is now in the Durand hospital recovering from three gunshot wounds. Police seized the weapon he used to carry  out the attempted robbery, but authorities also found a hand grenade on his person. In retrospect the situation could have been much worse.

Among its many, many controversial events, 2016 also brought back the debate about what constitutes legitimate self defense and, in more extreme cases, justifiable homicide.

The most emblematic cases took place practically one after the other. The first in August, when doctor Lino Villar Cataldo killed a man trying to rob him when coming out of his house in Loma Hermosa, Buenos Aires Province. The second one involved a butcher, “Billy” Oyarzún, who ran over a thief who had tried to rob his business. The latter saw himself in hot water after a video surfaced where he can be seen hitting the thief after “neutralizing” him, saying he would kill the robber, and didn’t care if he had to go to jail afterwards.

Both cases are currently being investigated, but considering how slow the Argentine judicial system is, a couple years will go by before we have news about whether these cases are viewed as justifiable homicide in the eyes of the law.