Courts chief suspended, sparking claims of political interference; Murders up locally but most follow domestic disputes; No monkeypox cases reported

May 23, 2022 | 3 comments

Ecuador’s National Judiciary Council has suspended Iván Saquicela, president of the country’s court system, for 90 days “for serious infractions and negligence.” Coming on the same day a three-judge panel in Santa Elena Province revoked the habeas corpus of former vice president Jorge Glas, the suspension has drawn criticism from some judges who claim it was politically motivated.

Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz led the Giro d’Italia going into Monday’s 16th stage.

Chief of the Judiciary Council, Fausto Murillo, said the council’s action follows complaints filed last week against Saquicela, one for negligence in processing the extradition request to Belgium for former president Rafael Correa. According to Murillo, the file to begin the extradition process was delivered to Saquicela in August 2021 but Saquicela failed to act on it until April of this year.

The other charge against Saquicela is that he interfered personally in court cases, including one involving a Dutch citizen facing extradition.

“No one is above the law and we are all responsible for our actions and omissions. That’s what happened in this situation,” said Murillo during a Friday a press conference announcing Saquicela’s suspension.

Saquicela responded that the Judiciary Council’s action was proof that “there is a new political hand at play in Ecuador’s legal system,” suggesting that his decision last week to delay the selection Murillo’s replacement by the Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control played a role in his dismissal.

The presidents of at least five provincial courts also criticized the Judiciary Council’s decision, suggesting that “politics” were involved in the suspension.

Ecuadorian takes the lead in Giro d’Italia
Ecuadorian cyclist Richard Carapaz has moved to the top of the leader board of the Giro d’Italia after the 14th and 15th stages of the race. Carapaz gained the lead during the mountain runs, where his training in the Ecuadorian Andes is believed to provide a competitive advantage. He won the Giro, the world’s second most prestigious cycle race after the Tour de France, in 2019 and earned a gold medal at the 2020 Beijing Olympics.

Murders rise in Azuay but most are domestic
The Azuay prosecutor’s office reports that murders in the province are up 20 percent over the same period of 2021 but says there is no indication the drug-related violence experienced in the country’s coastal region is affecting Cuenca and other communities in the province. Through the end of April, 31 murders were reported in the province, with 19 of them in Cuenca.

“Most murders are interfamiliar, many of them femicides, or otherwise involve persons who knew each other,” prosecutor Paul Diaz said. “This follows a consistent pattern of recent decades.”

According to Diaz, there have been two “hitman” style murders in Cuenca in 2020. “These now make up 70 percent of all murders in Guayaquil, Duran and Manta due to the illegal drug transport at the ports. Fortunately, these are very rare in Cuenca.”

In the local hitman murders, both victims were from Guayaquil and the gunman who was apprehended was recently released from a Guayaquil prison and admitted being a member of a drug gang.

Health Ministry on lookout for monkeypox
Ecuador’s Health Ministry says no cases of monkeypox have been reported in Ecuador. Cases of the African-based diseased have been treated in recent weeks in Europe, North America and other countries. In Latin America, suspected cases are being investigated in Brazil and Argentina.

“Because of the spread in other countries that do not ordinarily see the disease, we remain vigilant,” the Ministry said Saturday in statement. “We stand ready, if necessary, to isolate and treat cases that enter the country due to its potential deadliness.”

Usually confined to Africa, 13 countries, including the U.S., Canada, France, Portugal, Spain and Australia, have recently reported cases of monkeypox. Those infected with the disease’s most virulent strains have a death rate of about 10 percent.


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