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Colombia's police chief probed for alleged male prostitution ring

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia’s Investigator General Alejandro Ordonez on Tuesday said he will probe whether the head of the national police force was involved in the creation of a male prostitution ring that allegedly served lawmakers and was aided by police officials.

Colombia's General Rodolfo Palomino, the head of the national police, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bogota, Colombia, November 10, 2015. REUTERS/ John Vizcaino

General Rodolfo Palomino is also being investigated for alleged illicit enrichment and illegally wire tapping journalists’ telephones, a statement from the investigator’s office said. Palomino has previously been accused by police officers of propositioning them for sex, which he denies.

Testimony by police Captain Anyelo Palacios and a video were key pieces of evidence for the inquiry, the statement said.

They would not only be “evidence of the alleged network of male prostitution journalistically referred to as the ‘Fellowship of the Ring,’ but will also show involvement of certain members of congress in complicity with some officers of the National Police force,” the statement said.

The ring operated between 2004 and 2008, the investigator general said.

Local media released a video showing a 2008 discussion between former Senator Carlos Ferro and Palacios talking about gay sex. Neither the prostitution ring nor Palomino were mentioned in the explicit conversation.

The video seemed to have been filmed by Palacios without Ferro’s knowledge.

Ferro on Tuesday resigned from his post as vice interior minister, though he did not provide a reason for the move.

Local media also reported that the alleged prostitution ring included serving officers, though the statement did not specify.

Palomino denied any involvement on Tuesday.

“I appreciate that the relevant investigations are going ahead, as I requested, and I’m sure they will lead to the truth of false accusations that have been made against me in a reckless and sustained manner,” Palomino said.

As investigator general Ordonez, who is known for his social conservatism, is tasked with looking into misconduct by public officials.

Reporting by Helen Murphy and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Alan Crosby and Sandra Maler