Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Colombia charges National Police director with corruption

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Colombia’s Inspector General’s Office filed corruption charges against National Police director General Oscar Atehortua that could lead to his removal from office.

According to the charges, Atehortua was involved in the granting of a construction contract of houses meant for police officials that were paid for, but never constructed.

Atehortua’s ties to the corruption scandal

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The Inspector General said that the National Police chief failed to monitor progress of the construction when he was director of the Rotary Fund that paid for the homes that were never constructed.

The construction of the homes in San Luis, Tolima, was agreed between the National Police and contractor Pedro Leon in 2011, but nullified by Atehortua in 2015.

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When Atehortua was the National Police inspector in 2018, the general took over the corruption investigation despite his conflict of interest.

In fact, the Inspector General’s Office accused Atehortua of providing information about the corruption investigation to one of the officials suspected of being part of the racket.

Last but not least, after Atehortua had become director of the National Police, the general allegedly pressured his successor, General William Rene Salamanca,  to kill the investigation into the corruption scheme.

Prosecution asked to investigate police chief

The Inspector General’s Office called Atehortua to respond to the accusations and said it had forwarded evidence of his alleged participation in the corruption scheme to the Prosecutor General’s Office in order to open a criminal investigation.

The Inspector General’s Office can only conduct disciplinary investigations into alleged criminal activity of state officials and, if guilty, bar them from holding office.

Atehortua was appointed National Police commander by President Ivan Duque in December 2018.

Before linking the top of the National Police to criminal activity, Duque’s appointment of allegedly corrupt allies of his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, led to a command crisis in the National Army.

 

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