Chile’s Carabineros police force General Director Eduardo Gordon resigned his position Friday morning following an exposé by investigative journalism website CIPER that alleged Gordon had covered up his son’s involvement in a hit-and-run accident in July of last year.
Although Gen. Gordon insisted he was innocent and the Carabineros’ press office decried the “infamy” of CIPER’s allegations, the nation’s top law enforcement officer said Friday morning it was time to “step aside” to deal with personal health issues.
“In my opinion it’s time for me to step aside, although I am not giving up,” said Gordon. “I have asked his Excellency, the President, to accept my renunciation.”
After CIPER’s allegations emerged Thursday afternoon, Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter, Gordon’s immediate superior, ordered the Carabineros police to prepare a full report on the allegations and deliver them on Friday morning.
Gordon announced his resignation after delivering the report to Hinzpeter. Hinzpeter said he will review the Carabineros’ report and CIPER’s allegations and make a finding in due time.
Gordon had been under extreme pressure the past three months during a succession of mostly student-organized national protests which oftentimes turned violent. Media reports showed both rock-throwing students and unusually harsh treatment of demonstrators by Carabineros’ police, with police often using water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets and clubs to control demonstrators.
And finally, last week, a student was shot to death. Although Carabineros’ police initially denied any responsibility, an investigation proved the bullet that killed the student had been shot by Carabineros’ and that the police had tried to cover up their involvement.
General Gordon then condemned police officers involved in the incident: “Unfortunately, one of our own officers disobeyed the rules and used his firearm in a situation where our rules say it should not be used,” said Gordon last Tuesday. “And then, he tried to cover it all up. And so he broke one of the fundamental principles for Carabineros: the truth.”
But the revelation by the CIPER website showed that Gordon himself had violated the rules, creating a situation that proved to be untenable for the nation’s top cop.
CIPER reported that one of the two female victims of a hit-and-run accident on July 16, 2010, succeeded in writing down the license plate number of the car that had blindsided their car on Miguel Claro Street in Providencia before speeding off.
Carabineros officials who took the two women’s testimony used computer records to identify the car’s owner – Eduardo Ignacio Gordon Orduña – and included the car owner’s name in their official police report of the accident.
But later that same morning, once precinct officers realized that Eduardo Ignacio Gordon Orduña was the son of the institution’s general director, word was passed up the chain of command and ultimately to Director General Gordon himself, who asked to have the contact information of the two women.
The new accident report was written the same day by different police officers, one that omitted the name of the director general’s son. No further police or legal action was taken in the case.
CIPER reports that the female owner of the car that was hit was surprised that the accident had become public knowledge, and said she had been fully reimbursed for the damages to her car for CLP$3 million (roughly US$6,400).
By Steve Anderson – The Santiago Times