San José: Costa Rican authorities said Thursday 115 police officers were sacked or in the process of being sacked for suspected involvement in serious crimes such as murder, rape, assault and kidnapping.
"This uniform must not be sullied. That's why we will not allow corruption to occur," Security Minister Gustavo Mata told a news conference alongside senior police chiefs.
Ninety percent of the cases came from the Public Forces, a 14,000-strong national police service controlled by the security ministry and started two decades ago to handle border protection and anti-drugs operations as well as law enforcement. Costa Rica abolished its armed forces in 1949.
The ministry said the crimes included eight cases of sexual abuse of minors, eight cases of suspected involvement in murder, and nine cases of assaulting homes and business using police uniforms, weapons and vehicles.
Of the 115 officers, 51 were removed sacked, 31 were being notified they were fired and the remaining 33 were to be notified in the coming days.
Mata said a review was underway to determine whether recruitment vetting or psychological testing were at fault for letting such individuals into the police.
He also did not exclude the possibility that organised crime had been infiltrating the police and other state services, "as we have seen in countries such as Guatemala and Honduras."