General Rodolfo Palomino resigned today, Wednesday February 17, just a day after the Procuraduría announced it would launch an investigation into various allegations that have been made against him
Speaking at a press conference, the general said “I have taken the decision from my home to ask the President to release me from the position of director of the National Police.”
He maintained his innocence in the matter, stating, “I reaffirm to the judicial authorities with absolute certainty that I am not guilty of any of the charges against me.”
The allegations include connections to an organised ring of prostitution within the police, as well as sexual harassment, illegal wiretapping, and financial irregularities.
The claims of the existence of a male prostitution ring – known in the media as the ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ – within the police and related scandals have been circulating since 2006, and have resurfaced at several points since then.
The scandal centres around allegations from police cadets that they were offered money and favours by senior officers in exchange for sex with congressional representatives, business people and paramilitaries.
Vice Minister of the Interior, Senator Carlos Ferro, has also been caught up in the affair and announced his resignation yesterday. The procuraduría had released a video, which they say is relevant to the case, of a 2008 conversation between Ferro and captain Ányelo Palacios, where they talk about gay sex.
Some have questioned the ‘outing’ of the married former vice minister, as the prostitution ring was not mentioned in the video. However, Palacios has claimed he is a victim of the network, and has said that congressmen including Carlos Ferro were involved.
In December last year, President Santos formed a commission to investigate police corruption, giving it 90 days to publish its findings.
The Procuraduría will investigate whether General Palomino is connected to the prostitution scandal, along with several related claims. One of these is the accusations from two journalists, La FM’s Vicky Dávila and Semana’s Daniel Coronell, who both say they have been the victims of police persecution and wiretapping as a result of their coverage.
Another is the low price land acquired by Palomino from from Colonel Castellanos who had resigned as a result of the prostitution scandal. And Colonel Reinaldo Gómez, who has accused the General of sexual harassment will also be called to testify.
In accepting the general’s resignation, President Santos and Minister of Defence, Luis Carlos Villegas, both praised his 38 years of service to the Colombian people. Villegas said it gave him “both personal and institutional sadness”, while Santos expressed gratitude to General Palomino and his family for their commitment to the police.
The new Director of the National Police will be General Jorge Hernando Nieto who has served the police in various positions for the past 35 years.