President Porfirio Lobo of Honduras has fired the country’s national police chief, after mounting accusations of human right abuses committed by him and his force.
Lobo said he made the decision to remove General Juan Carlos Bonilla, who had expressed interest in leaving, in consultations with President-elect Juan Orlando Hernandez, who comes to office January 27.
Although the decision was expected in the wake of the nearing change in administration, neither Lobo nor Hernandez explained the reasons for the firing.
The incoming president has voiced doubt in efforts to root out corruption in the National Police, Honduras’ only police force.
Bonilla, who was known as “the Tiger,” was charged in 2002 of alleged human rights violations stemming from accusations he headed a social cleansing campaign that killed criminals while he was a regional police chief.
He was later acquitted of one alleged death squad killing by a court whose ruling was upheld by Honduras’ Supreme Court in 2009.
In August 2012, Lobo put him at the top of Honduras’ National Police department, which faces frequent allegations of beating, killing and “disappearing” people who are detained.
Although he ran all policing, from planning operations to directing investigations and even approving travel abroad for training and vehicle repairs, Bonilla has repeatedly denied involvement in such violations.
The 49-year-old five-star general has also claimed receiving assistance from the US embassy which the US State Department has denied, citing knowledge of the human rights allegations against him.
Bonilla will be replaced by Commissioner Ramon Sabillon who will handle the state security in the South American poor country that is known for having one of the world’s highest homicide rates and serves as a stop for an estimated 80 percent of the continent’s cocaine trans-shipped into the US.