The commander in chief of the Chilean army, General Ricardo Martínez, announced on Wednesday his resignation from the institutional leadership a few hours after being questioned by a special minister investigating fraud in that force, a case for which his three predecessors are being prosecuted.
Martínez announced his resignation at the end of the public account of his management during an act at the Military School. Formally, his management ended on Thursday, March 10.
“I have decided to present to the president my resignation from the position of Commander in Chief of the Army. I reiterate my innocence and state that I have never been and am above the law, but it is not my place to be below the law, "said Martínez, adding that he had submitted his resignation to President Sebastián Piñera on Tuesday afternoon.
Martínez is due to be questioned this week by Minister Romy Rutherford, who is investigating a fraud in the army, one of whose edges refers to the alleged misuse of air tickets on national and international trips by the commanders in chief while they were in office.
Had he not resigned, Martínez would have become the first active-duty Army commander-in-chief to be investigated for corruption.
Martínez's lawyer, Juan Carlos Manríquez, said the day before that he does not know why the outgoing military chief will be questioned. According to the local press, the allegedly irregular use of air tickets, freight and reserved expenses will be addressed.
“I emphatically declare to the country and my comrades-in-arms my innocence in such accusations, I have always acted in good faith and all my acts have been adjusted to the regulations in force in the institution. And with the same conviction I indicate that I will put all my effort to prove it in the corresponding judicial instances, "said Martínez.
According to the investigation, the army quoted the most expensive plane tickets for high-ranking members of the force and then exchanged them for cheaper ones, keeping the leftover money, or used them to purchase tickets for personal purposes.
After the surprise resignation, the army announced in a statement that General Rodrigo Ventura will take over as substitute until next Wednesday the administration of General Javier Iturriaga begins.