Honduran Supreme Court Backs Police Director Amid Death Squad Claims

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The president of the Honduran Supreme Court (CSJ) has said the nation’s police director, mired in controversy over allegations that he was involved in extrajudicial killings, has never been found guilty of anything and as such should be fully supported.

CSJ President Jorge Rivera Aviles said Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, who is accused of links to death squads, had no active cases against him, and as such his work should not be interfered with, reported newspaper El Heraldo.

The recent media outcry about Bonilla’s alleged complicity with extrajudicial killings has already adversely affected Honduran security, said Rivera, though he did not give examples.

InSight Crime Analysis

A 2002 report by Honduran police internal affairs investigators named Bonilla in three killings or forced disappearances between 1998 and 2002 and linked him to 11 other cases.

Only one case ever led to charges and he was ultimately acquitted. When investigative news site El Faro questioned Bonilla about the cases in a 2011 interview, he said, “I love my country, and I am ready to defend it at all costs, and I have done things to defend it.”

Reports last month by the Associated Press accused the Honduran police force of operating death squads under Bonilla’s command, allegations promptly followed by a US announcement it was giving the service a $16.3 million aid package. Following criticism, the US said the money would only go to specially-vetted units and that US officials would not work directly with Bonilla nor with the 20 people directly beneath him.

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