“They are personal trustworthy, they are not career officials; therefore, if trust is lost, they lose their position and trust is lost once their guilt has been proven,” Interior Minister Luis Alberto Heber said at the end of october. This Monday, December 5, the deputy director of the National Police, Héctor Ferreira, submitted his resignation through a letter addressed to the minister.
Until this Monday number two of the Police is being investigated for various favors to the former presidential custodian, Alejandro Astesiano. However, sources from the Ministry of the Interior assured The Observer that Ferreira’s resignation was due to the disclosure of the chats in which he is contemptuous of the Broad Front militants and the MPP senator Alejandro Sánchez.
According to the conversation reported by MVD Noticias, Ferreira wrote to the then head of presidential custody on March 24: “As long as they breathe they won’t change,” referring to the front players. On that same occasion, he called the legislator a “scourge”, “HDP” and “dirty.”
But this, which can be politically inconvenient, does not mean any criminal reproach. The investigation of the Gabriela Fossati prosecutor’s office investigates him for various situations in which he allegedly committed the crime of influence peddling.
She herself reported at a hearing on October 24 about two situations. In the first place, without naming him, she referred to the fact that Ferreira sent patrolmen to a private event that Astesiano organized with his security company. Astesiano sent him a Whatsapp message where he asked: “Motorcycles for the soccer club of the Cohami Complex, on Avenida Millán and Lecocq” because we have “a stage at 6:00 p.m. and on the other side we have the Echador neighborhood (and the neighbors) that they always come to break the balls”. “Can you get some cops or some motorcycles or something? just to be no more… to make an appearance… so they don’t come to fuck. I don’t want to screw you, I don’t want to compromise you.
In the second message that Fossati read, he informed him that the daughter of a colleague from Human Resources for the Presidency wanted to enter the Police School but did not have a subject saved. She had to enter in June but she was going to give the subject only in July, at that moment she asked him to “hold” her place. Ferreira’s response was that the procedure had been carried out, which has not yet been verified.
At the end of November, Radio Sarandí published another conversation between Ferreira and Astesiano. In it, the ex-custodian told her about a situation of domestic violence that her daughter had experienced with her ex-son-in-law. There, the former deputy director asked him to send him information “so that Intelligence can see everything, networks, everything.”
Although these are the situations that have come to light so far, they are not the only ones for which the prosecutor Fossati is investigating. as she knew The Observerthere is at least one other irregular situation.
The position of the ministry and the response to the prosecutor’s questions
Once it was learned that there were police officers in the sights of the Prosecutor’s Office, Heber said that there are “presumption of innocence” and that, despite the fact that they are public officials, they are innocent, “like all people in Uruguay, until proven otherwise.”
Asked if he has any doubts that the officials were not telling the truth when speaking to him, Heber responded with a terse “no.” Still, they had agreed to take leave until the investigation was complete.
This Tuesday, Heber defended Ferreira and said that the resignation is an “attitude that exalts him.” “He has understood that he was compromising the administration. As a good policeman in a position of trust, he has made the decision to step aside. The investigations continue in the prosecutor’s office, but not in the Ministry of the Interior, which have concluded”, said at a press conference.
The interior minister said that Ferreira “wants to leave the ministry free to act, not compromise it, in what could have been a personal communication that has come out.” And he also explained how he is dealing with this situation: “He personally feels bad about the situation, therefore he made the decision.”
In an institutional statement issued this week, the ministry had indicated that Ferreira did not expedite the complaint of Astesiano’s daughter – who, according to what they said, was given a common procedure – and that no charge was “held” for the daughter of the Presidency official at the police school.
The prosecution asked him three questions at the end of October about the eventual responsibility of the hierarch. The first referred to the use of patrol cars, that is, if it was appropriate for Astesiano to address the chief and send mobile phones to social events or shows as in the case of the stage.
The second, inquired about the security company that the prosecutor suspects was owned by Astesiano although it appears in the name of another person. Fossati consulted precisely if the former custodian was listed as the owner of a security company.
As it turns out, Astesiano requested that he be forgiven a $150,000 fine for non-compliance with the regulations and asked the police chief to arrange a meeting with the General Director of Company Inspection (Digefe). That fine was not forgiven, said Interior.
The last point refers to a request from Astesiano to save a place in the Police School for the daughter of a colleague who worked in the Executive Tower and had yet to take an exam. The prosecutor asked to know details of that proposal. From the ministry they responded that when the contest was held, the woman already had the matter saved.