The presidential office did not disclose the reasons for the dismissal of the deeply religious Catholic, but the Ministry of Defense investigated Sanabria internally for suspicions that his religious beliefs were inappropriately reflected in his duties as police chief, the AP reported.
Sanabria sparked a debate about the influence of his faith on the police after he said in a March interview with the media that he and other police officers use exorcism techniques to catch drug lords and guerrilla leaders. He also strongly condemned abortion, which is legal in Colombia. The accompanying pictures showed that his office is full of crucifixes, statues of the Virgin Mary and other Christian symbols.
A police official who spoke to Colombian media on condition of anonymity said Sanabria, who took over the institution in August 2022, encouraged his subordinates to participate in religious exercises, according to AFP.
Although Colombia is a predominantly Catholic country with conservative and religious traditions, it is constitutionally a secular state. Petro, who was sworn in as the country’s first-ever leftist president last August, said Sanabria would never be punished for his faith, but that religious beliefs should be separated from state affairs.
Interior Minister Alfonso Prada said on Wednesday that Sanabrio’s departure had nothing to do with expressions of his religious feelings, as the government respects freedom of religion. He said only that Sanabrio’s dismissal was part of a “new beginning” for the police force.
The sheriff’s deputy exorcised the devil from his son. He told his daughter to shoot anyone who entered the apartment
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