Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela leader Nicolas Maduro announces police 'purge'

President Nicolas Maduro before his speech at the Fort Tiuna military base in Caracas on 27 October, 2014. Image copyright AP
Image caption President Nicolas Maduro says he wants to revolutionise Venezuela's police force

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Monday that he would conduct a thorough "purge" of the country's police force.

The president said police officers had taken part in the murder of governing party lawmaker Robert Serra this month.

Mr Maduro said he would name a presidential commission to "revolutionise the police" and "fix everything that's wrong" with it.

Mr Serra was found stabbed to death at his home in Caracas on 1 October.

His partner, Maria Herrera, was also killed.

A rising star in the ruling PSUV party, Mr Serra, 27, was known for delivering impassioned speeches in favour of the government.

'Revolution'

"Let's dig deep to build the kind of police force that our fatherland really deserves. We need a revolution of the police force here in Venezuela, and I will carry it out without delay, without excuses," he said during a news conference on Monday.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The brutal stabbing of Mr Serra, a rising star in the PSUV, shocked party officials

Mr Maduro said on Tuesday he would announce the members of a presidential commission aimed at transforming the police force.

The socialist leader said that, as part of the investigation into Mr Serra's murder, it had come to light that "small groups of officers" were in the pay of criminals.

He said that one group from the Caracas force had been detained which "had put itself at the service of Colombian paramilitary mafias to kill this leader of the Venezuelan youth".

He accused the officers of "betraying their oath".

On Friday, President Maduro said that the people behind Mr Serra's murder had been identified.

He accused "Venezuelan extreme right-wing groups" of ordering the murder, which was then allegedly carried out by right-wing Colombian paramilitaries with the aim of destabilising the Venezuelan government.

The president said nine suspects had been arrested, while three remained on the run.

Venezuela has the second highest peacetime murder rate in the world after Honduras, according to United Nations figures.

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