Former Honduras police chief Ricardo Ramirez del Cid has fled the country due to security concerns following the murder of his teenage son, which he blames on his successor.
The ex-official is currently in the United States, family members told La Tribuna. Ramirez was removed from the post of police chief in May 2012, after officers under his command were implicated in the murder of journalist Alfredo Villatoro.
Ramirez’s 17-year-old son was killed in February, gunned down in a Tegucigalpa restaurant, alongside his two bodyguards, by a group of masked men. Reports connected these gunmen to the Barrio 18 gang. Four people have been arrested in connection with the murders so far, according to La Tribuna.
Ramirez accused his replacement, Juan Carlos Bonilla, of being behind the murder, and said that the police command was being reshuffled in order to obstruct the investigation into the case. He did not supply a motive. He said that the gang members had been contracted by his enemies to kidnap the teenager, and that members of the armed forces as well as the police were involved.
Ramirez sought protection for himself and his family from the Attorney General’s human rights unit earlier this month. He announced days later that he was contemplating leaving the country due to death threats, and said that he was being followed constantly by a group of police. According to La Prensa, the government considered offering him a post in a foreign embassy in order to get him out of the country.
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Bonilla denied having anything to do with the murder, and President Porfirio Lobo criticized Ramirez for accusing the police chief. However, the current police chief has been accused of involvement in a number of murders carried out by death squads. Indeed, his history of links to human rights violations was part of the reason that the US government froze security aid to the country in August last year, and the US Congress has stated that no aid will go to units under Bonilla’s command.
Ramirez’s concerns about his security, and suspicions about other members of the police, predate the death of his son: he complained in December 2011 that he suspected members of his own police force were plotting to kill him.