‘Crimes against humanity’ trial begins; ten retired police and army officials face charges in 1985 torture case

Oct 1, 2013

A judge has ordered the arrest of three army and police officers in Ecuador’s first trial involving alleged crimes against humanity.

They are part of a group of 10 former senior officers accused of abducting and torturing members of an illegal opposition group in 1985.

Judge Lucy Blacio ordered that six other retired senior officers be put under house arrest.

Activists travelled to Quito for the opening day of the landmark trial.

chl crimesThe events took place under the government of late President Leon Febres Cordero, who was in office from 1984 to 1988.

Chief prosecutor Galo Chiriboga had requested that ten retired police officers be detained or put under house arrest.

Blacio rejected the request to have one of the accused detained: an elderly army general who is seriously ill.

But he was told he cannot leave the country.

The three victims, Susana Cajas, Javier Jarrin and Luis Vaca, were detained in November 1985 for alleged links with an underground opposition group, the Eloy Alfaro Popular Armed Forces.

They will testify next week and are expected to give details of their ordeal.

Cajas and Vaca were in court today alongside Mr Chiriboga, who denounced the cruelty of the crimes committed 28 years ago.

“They were tortured, beaten, and submitted to particularly sadistic forms of torture, including electric shocks to their genitals” he said.

Defence lawyers have asked the prosecutor to clarify his accusations.

Lawyers, politicians and human rights activists from other Latin American countries were at the National Court of Justice in the capital, Quito, for the trial.

Among them was Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino.

The director of the Prosecutor’s Office Truth Commission, Fidel Jaramillo, said crimes against humanity only began to be investigated in 2007, President Rafael Correa came into power.

“They were never tried in Ecuador because there was never the political will to do so,” Jaramillo said.

Credit: BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk; Photo caption: Police arrest protester in 1985

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