Former Police Chief Arrested for Plotting Against Government
PANAMA CITY (AP) _ Authorities charged the former chief of the National Police on Thursday with plotting to overthrow the government of President Guillermo Endara.
Attorney General Rogelio Cruz, in a letter to the chief of the Technical Judicial Police, Leslie Loaiza, said former Col. Eduardo Herrera was being charged with threatening state security.
Herrera led the reorganization of Panama’s military in the wake of the Dec. 20, 1989, U.S. invasion that overthrew former strongman Manuel Noriega. But Endara retired him in August, and the government now says Herrera is linked to a group that opposes U.S. intervention in Panama.
Herrera was detained Wednesday upon returning from a private visit to Peru. If convicted he could face up to 20 years in prison, although a sentence of such a length would be unlikely.
Herrera has denied the allegations. His attorney, Rafael Rodriguez, told reporters that U.S. citizens had offered bribes in exchange for testimony implicating Herrera.
The government announced last week that Herrera had ordered members of the National Police to carry out bombings and attempt to seize army barracks.
The government said he was also linked to underground 20th of December Movement, which takes its name, in protest, from the date of the U.S. invasion of Panama last year. The government this week said it had uncovered two training camps for the guerrilla group, which it said had about 225 members.