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Ecuador News

Expert says that the murder of a general who opposed helicopter purchase was an ‘inside job’

An Argentinian forensics expert told prosecutors Thursday that Air Force General Jorge Gabela was murdered for his opposition to the purchase of Indian-made helicopters, not by common thieves as the government reported.

General Jorge Gabela

In his testimony, Roberto Meza suggested that the government’s conclusion that Gabela’s 2010 murder in Guayaquil was the result of a home robbery was probably a cover-up of a conspiracy by “military and financial interests.”

Meza, who was hired by the government in 2011 to investigate the murder, testified that his conclusions were part of a report he delivered when he finished his investigation. That reports has disappeared from government files.

“The report demonstrates objectively and with evidence, both testimonial and documentary, that the death of General Gabela was directly related to the allegations he made about the purchase of Dhruv helicopters,” he said. Meza refused to speculate on who might have ordered or participated in the murder.

After Gabela stepped down as Air Force commander in 2009, Ecuador’s defense ministry purchased seven Dhruvs for $45 million and was negotiating for the purchase of more. In the five years following the purchase, four of the helicopters crashed, killing several Air Force personnel.

Gabela’s family has long-maintained that the general was murdered for criticizing the purchase. Patricia Ochoa, Gabela’s widow, met with officials of the Council of Participation and Social Control (Cpccs) requesting a special investigation of the murder.

Ochoa and her attorney claim that high-ranking government officials, possibly including former president Rafael Correa, were involved in a cover-up of the murder.