Honduras foreign minister resigns over police murder scandal

Honduran Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales resigned on April 15, 2016 after being mired in a scandal in which a cabal of corrupt top police officers reportedly ordered hits on anti-crime officials.
Honduran Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales resigned on April 15, 2016 after being mired in a scandal in which a cabal of corrupt top police officers reportedly ordered hits on anti-crime officials. PHOTO: AFP

TEGUCIGALPA (AFP) - Honduran Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales resigned on Friday (April 15) after being mired in a scandal in which a cabal of corrupt top police officers reportedly ordered hits on anti-crime officials.

The office of President Juan Orlando Hernandez said the head of state "has today (Friday) accepted the resignation of the secretary for foreign affairs and international cooperation, Arturo Corrales."

Corrales was Orlando's security minister during an alleged cover-up of the police involvement, which came to light through recent reporting by the Honduran newspaper El Heraldo.

The daily cited a security ministry document revealing that senior police officers ordered the assassination of Honduras' top anti-drugs official, Aristides Gonzalez, in December 2009.

It also said the group of police ordered hits on a state prosecutor, Orlando Chavez, in April 2013, and on a former security ministry consultant, Alfredo Landaverde, in December 2014.

The hierarchy of the security ministry in place between 2009 and 2014 covered up the information, the newspaper said.

Corrales was security minister for one year, from January 2014 until January 2015, when he was made foreign minister.

Honduras' public ministry, which handles state prosecutions, opened an investigation last week after a raid on the police headquarters turned up evidence regarding Gonzalez's murder.

The president has asked Congress to approve an emergency decree aimed at accelerating a clean-up of the 12,000-strong police force that has been dragging on for four years now.

That process started in early 2011 when it was discovered that it was riddled with officers working for narcotics cartels, hitmen and other criminals.

Authorities believe more than one in 10 of the officers is dirty and must be booted from the police force.