Colombia’s police chief steps down over male prostitution scandal

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Bogota, Feb 18 (IANS/EFE – The head of Colombia’s national police force stepped down on Wednesday amid allegations he created and set in motion a male prostitution ring within that institution.

The inspector general’s office announced on Tuesday that it was investigating Gen. Rodolfo Palomino over his alleged role in the prostitution ring, as well as for suspected illicit enrichment and illegal wiretapping.

“I’ve made the decision … to ask the president (Juan Manuel Santos) to remove me from the post of National Police director,” Palomino, accompanied by his wife and top police brass, said.

He asserted his “absolute innocence” and urged the IG’s office, which probes allegations of misconduct by those who have public duties or manage state funds, to conduct a thorough investigation.

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“Just as the attorney general’s office has been investigating and thus far has not found evidence linking me (to the scandal), I’m sure the inspector general’s office won’t find anything either,” Palomino said.

A national police captain’s testimony was key to the decision to launch the inquiry, Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez said.

Investigators have not yet indicated who received sexual favours from young cadets or what was offered in return, although Colombian media have speculated that gifts and promotions may have been exchanged.

“This ‘modus operandi’ allegedly took place with the aid and complicity of (senior) national police officers,” including Palomino, Ordoñez said.

Santos accepted Palomino’s resignation, which he termed an act of “loyalty”, and named Gen. Jorge Hernando Nieto as his replacement.

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