Ecuador’s Public Prosecutor’s Office has charged six suspects with the murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, which took place on Wednesday (9). They will also answer for drug trafficking, according to the local press.
The names of the men, all of Colombian nationality, were disclosed in a statement that omits the surnames: Andrés M., José N., Adey G., Camilo R., Jules C. and Jhon R.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the suspects were charged after a hearing at the Mariscal Flagrantes Police Station, where 22 elements of conviction collected at the scene of the crime and in steps taken by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the police were exposed.
Among them would be witnesses, analysis of video from security cameras in the vicinity of the place where Villavicencio was killed and the autopsy. The prosecution also claims that the ballistic report shows compatibility between cartridges found and a rifle found in raids by the judicial body. 61 9mm and 3 .223 caliber capsules were located, in addition to the weapon used in the attack.
The suspects had been detained, according to the Public Ministry, in actions on properties in the neighborhoods of Monjas and Argelia Baja. With them, the prosecution found shotguns, a submachine gun, four pistols, three grenades, four boxes of ammunition and two motorcycles.
Also according to the statement, the agency states that it processes the case based on article 140 of the Penal Code, items 9 and 10, which deal with the murder of officials or candidates for election and the death caused during large concentrations and with popular commotion. . Penalties related to the article range from 22 to 26 years in prison.
According to the local press, of the 6 suspects accused, 5 have a criminal record. These include penalties for manufacturing and trafficking in firearms, theft, drug trafficking, homicide and domestic violence.
The public defender who represented the accused at the hearing said that the suspects showed signs of having been attacked, with medical reports proving the violence. She requested that the arrest of the men be classified as illegal, arguing that due process of law was not respected and adding that the Colombian Embassy in the country had not been notified, according to the newspaper El Universo.
The assassination of candidate Fernando Villavicencio has plunged the country’s impending elections into uncertainty. At least three candidates suspended their campaigns — one of them, Jan Topic, was publicly threatened by the faction that claimed responsibility for the crime.
The government of President Guillermo Lasso has announced that it will keep the election date for August 20.
Lasso, who had decreed a state of exception for 60 days in the country after the political crime, removed from the text the articles that limited the right to freedom of assembly, justifying the change due to the maintenance of the election. The suspensions of other rights, such as the inviolability of the home, remain in force.
Villavicencio was shot dead after a campaign event at a high school in Quito. The attack took place around 6:20 pm last Wednesday and left more people injured. The center-right politician, journalist and former trade unionist, had already received threats and suffered another attack in 2022.
The candidate’s private wake took place this Thursday (10), at the Memorial wake room, in the capital. Supporters gathered at the door of the venue to try to say goodbye to the politician, but were prevented from entering and lamented outside, under protests. There was a brief attempt to force the entrance gate, captured by videos on social networks.
A public funeral was expected, and the Construye Movement, the party for which Villavicencio was a candidate, organized an event at the capital’s convention center. The body was transferred directly to the Monte Olivo cemetery, where a mass was held with family members in the chapel, under the protection of heavily armed police.
“My son leaves a legacy of struggle, transparency and sacrifice,” said Villavicencio’s mother, Gloria Valencia. “I hope his trajectory is not used as propaganda by others.”
Also on Thursday, the day after the assassination of the presidential candidate, a candidate for the country’s National Assembly was the target of an attack in the city of Quevedo (230 km from Quito).
Estefany Puente was driving a car with stickers from another candidate, Eduardo Mendoza, when the vehicle was intercepted by two criminals, who fired at the windshield, on the driver’s side. A shot grazed the politician’s arm, who received medical attention and is not at risk of death.
The shooters fled, and the motives for the attack are unclear. Puente was accompanied by her father and an employee.
“Today I was the victim of a crime against my integrity, which we Ecuadorians experience daily,” wrote Puente in his profile on social networks. “We were forgotten by an inoperative government, shrouded in corruption and mafias, the result of previous governments (of fugitives) and the current one.”