Search for Colombia whistleblower

File photo from 4 August 2015 of Colombia's Police Chief Gen. Rodolfo PalominoImage copyright

Image caption

Police chief Gen Palomino resigned as a result of the scandal involving Capt Palacios

Police in Colombia are searching for a whistleblower in a male prostitution scandal which led to the resignation of the head of police last month.

Police captain Anyelo Palacios was kidnapped in Norte de Santander province on Saturday, his stepfather told police.

Capt Palacios hit the headlines when he alleged he was the victim of a male prostitution ring within the police.

Armed men reportedly seized the captain on a road in Norte de Santander.

The head of Colombia’s anti-kidnapping taskforce has been sent to the area to investigate Capt Palacios’ disappearance.

Kidnappings have become a lot less frequent in Colombia since the government started peace talks with the country’s largest rebel group, but abductions in remote rural areas where a smaller rebel group is active do still occur.

However, speculation is rife in Capt Palacios’ case over whether he may have been taken for the incriminating information he is believed to have.

‘Seized by gunmen’

Capt Palacios’ stepfather, 76-year-old Arcilio Ortiz Valero, said the car he and the captain were travelling in was stopped by four gunmen on a road between the towns of Cucuta and Pamplona, in north-eastern Colombia.

Mr Ortiz said the gunmen told him to get out of the car and that they would return with his stepson within an hour.

When they failed to return, he alerted the authorities.

Capt Palacios has been at the centre of a scandal involving Colombia’s national police since he told reporters he had been abused as a young cadet by a male prostitution ring operating within the force.

Colombia’s Prosecutor General Alejandro Ordonez said that Capt Palacios’ allegation was backed up by a separate complaint by a now retired police captain.

According to the complaint, young male police cadets were cajoled and threatened into having sex with higher-ranking officers and influential politicians.

A day after Mr Ordonez opened an investigation into the case, police chief Gen Rodolfo Palomino, who said he was “absolutely innocent”, resigned.

Video controversy

To back up his allegations, Capt Palacios handed Colombian radio station La FM a video he says he took of himself and Senator Carlos Ferro in 2008.

The video shows the then-senator in a car talking to the man recording the video.

The man making the recording cannot be seen but can be heard clearly and his voice seems to match that of Capt Palacios.

The two discuss their sexual preferences and engage in talk of an explicit sexual nature.

However, there is no mention of a prostitution ring or any signs of coercion or cajoling.

The airing of the video by La FM Radio led to the resignation of Mr Ferro in February, who at the time was deputy interior minister.

But it also caused a backlash among Colombians who said it offered no proof of anything illegal and should therefore not have been made public.

The journalist who aired it, Vicky Davila, came under heavy criticism and was asked to resign by her bosses.

The investigation into the alleged prostitution ring is still under way and Capt Palacios is a key witness.

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