Honduras President has fired the police chief following frequent accusations of abuse in the Central American country.
On Thursday, President Porfirio Lobo fired Honduras’ national police chief, who has previously faced accusations he ran death squads when he was a lower-level officer and who ran a department frequently hit by abuse claims.
In a statement, Lobo says he decided to remove General Juan Carlos Bonilla, after consultating with President-elect Juan Orlando Hernandez, who takes office January 27.
There was no explanation for the dismissal of the Honduras Police Chief from either Lobo or Hernandez, who is skeptic of supposed efforts to clean out corrupt officers from the force and shake up the National Police.
“We are making these changes now, because we are in the planning phase to have a successful start on January 27,” Hernandez said after announcing the Honduras Police Chief was fired.
Although, as Honduras Police Chief, Bonilla, who is nicknamed “El Tigre” (The Tiger), allegedly worked closely with the US in the war against drug trafficking, the State Department denies he was their go-to man in the country.
In August 2012, Lobo named him Honduras’ National Police Chief. The organization faces frequent allegations of beating, killing, and “disappearing” people who are under their custody.
Arabeska Sanchez, an investigator with the University Institute of Peace and Security and a teacher at the Honduras’ Police Academy says:
“(Bonilla) was the only high-ranking official without known ties to organized crime. He remains under suspicion because it is impossible to know if he is implicated in state policies of human rights violations that have occurred close to him.”
In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this year, the fired Honduras Police Chief denied the accusations against him, saying he is no way responsible for a string of gang members’ disappearances.
“I can’t be on top of everything. Sometimes things will escape me. I’m human,” the 49-year-old five star general told the AP.
Bonilla also made frequent reference to his alleged connections to the US saying the American Embassy frequently assisted him in police operations.
In a memo to Congress, shortly after then Honduras Police Chief was appointed, the State Department said it had no connection to Bonilla.
Honduras is considered to be a point of entry for drugs coming into the US from South America. The police chief is responsible to keep the piece in the extremely poor country of 8 million and the highest crime rate in the world.