A video uploaded to Youtube claims to show Honduras’ top cop participating in a plan to assassinate former president Manuel Zelaya, although there is little in the actual footage and audio that supports this assertion.
The heavily edited video, posted on Youtube on February 22, includes footage of currrent police chief Juan Carlos Bonilla talking with other members of the security forces, and planning an operation on a whiteboard (watch the video below). The conversation centers around strategy for intercepting a car, and at one point a speaker states repeatedly, “We’re not leaving anyone behind.”
Text superimposed on the video states that the filmed conversation was actually a plot to kill deposed former President Manuel Zelaya, although there is little in the video audio that backs up this claim, and Zelaya’s name is never mentioned. As newspaper El Heraldo reports, a spokesperson for the Secretariat of Security confirmed that the video was filmed during Honduras’ 2009 political crisis, but said that it shows the security forces planning an operation to be carried out between the Honduran and Nicaraguan border. The spokesperson’s statements implied that the filmed conversation does involve talk of carrying out an order to capture someone, but he did not specify whether this was Zelaya.
The video is just one of several loaded critiques issued against Bonilla in the past week. A former police director accused Bonilla and the police of playing some role in the recent murder of his 17-year-old son. Meanwhile, the head of the national police internal affairs unit, known as the DICEP, said that Bonilla has not yet agreed to undergo mandatory lie detector tests, according to newspaper La Tribuna.
InSight Crime Analysis
Bonilla is no stranger to controversy. He was once accused of forming part of a death squad that roamed the streets killing suspected criminals, and was charged with extrajudicial murder in 2002, although he was later found innocent. When questioned on the matter by ElFaro in a profile that ran in 2011, he said, “There are things that one takes to the grave. What I can tell you is that I love my country, and I am ready to defend it at all costs, and I have done things to defend it.” Concerns over Bonilla’s ties to death squads even prompted the US to partially suspend aid to Honduras last year.
The actual contents of the Youtube video does little to implicate Bonilla in more unsavoury doings. Allegations by the DICEP that Bonilla has not yet submitted to polygraphs and other confidence tests, if true, is a more damning accusation that Bonilla is not fully committed to cleaning up Honduras’ police force, as he originally promised.