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Venezuelan minister targets police corruption

Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez publicly gives out his phone number, urging officers to report corrupt superiors.

Last updated: 12 Jan 2014 01:48
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A nonprofit group counted nearly 25,000 people slain last year, 79 for every 100,000 Venezuelans [Reuters]

Venezuela's government has urged the country's police to report corruption in their ranks seen as part of the violent crime crisis, after a famous ex-beauty queen was slain.

Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez gave out his personal phone number during an address and asked police to call him to report corruption.

"New police will always have some great superiors, well-prepared ones. But they also are going to get some bad eggs. Report them fearlessly because their (corruption) undermines police authority for the Venezuelan people," Rodriguez said in the address carried on state television.

"Just give me the information right away, and we will rip the head off that immoral police superior," the minister warned.

Venezuela has one of the world's highest murder rates, ranking 5th globally according to the United Nations.

Monica Spear, a former Miss Venezuela who starred in a telenovela at the US-based Telemundo network, and her ex-husband became the latest casualty of her homeland's crime epidemic.

The director of the Violence Observatory, Roberto Briceno, said the killings "bring into relief a common reality of daily life in Venezuela," where his nonprofit group counted nearly 25,000 people slain last year, 79 for every 100,000 Venezuelans.

Authorities only solve eight out of 100 homicides in Venezuela, emboldening criminals who have turned the South American nation into one of the world's most dangerous places outside war zones.

Spear and her 39-year-old British ex-partner Henry Thomas Berry were shot dead on a northwestern Venezuelan highway after they resisted robbers who attacked their broken-down car in front of their five-year-old daughter, who was wounded.

The slaying followed a pattern of late-night attacks carried out by disabling cars with obstacles placed on roadways.

Seven people, including a woman and two teenagers, have been arrested in connection with the double murder. The couple were buried on Friday while their daughter, Maya, was in the care of her grandparents.

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