Senior Chilean cop accused of seeking to undermine president

Santiago, Jun 22 (EFE).- The Chilean government said Wednesday that it will look into claims that the head of the national police intelligence division is working to undermine President Gabriel Boric.

Online daily Interferencia said Tuesday that Gen. Luigi Lopresti, who openly supported far-right candidate Jose Antonio Kast in last year’s presidential election, has deliberately withheld information from the center-left administration.

“The Interior Ministry will request the reports from the institution to be able to resolve questions regarding what has been alleged,” government spokesperson Camila Vallejo told a press conference.

“Obviously, if true, it’s very serious,” she said.

Lopresti leads a unit of the Carabineros, Chile’s militarized national police.

The Interferencia story, based on accounts from sources inside the Carabineros who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisals, said that the force’s commander, Gen. Ricardo Yañez, was poised last November to order Lopresti into retirement after learning that the intelligence chief was bypassing him and bringing information directly to then-President Sebastian Piñera.

But senior officials in the Piñera government intervened to keep Lopresti in the job.

A Carabineros officer who transferred out of the intelligence division two years ago told Interferencia that Lopresti and his confidants were “remnants” of the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship.

After the new government took office in March, according to the story, Lopresti halted the long-standing practice of having Carabineros officers check-in nightly with the security details outside the residences of the president and the interior minister.

On April 13, lawmakers from Kast’s party presented Interior Minister Izkia Siches with a document previously unknown to her cataloguing more than 3,500 violent incidents in the conflictive southern region of Araucania.

Gen. Marcelo Araya, the inspector-general of the Carabineros, said that the high command has already ordered the intelligence to put all relevant materials at the disposition of prosecutors.

Always unpopular with some segments of society, the Carabineros have faced intense criticism over their brutal response to the wave of social protests that erupted in October 2019.

At least 29 people died, most of them at the hands of police, and more than 2,500 others were injured, including many who lost eyes after being shot in the face with tear-gas canisters or rubber bullets.

Boric has made reform of the Carabineros a goal of his administration. EFE jm/dr

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