A commission of National Assembly members has concluded that former government officials, including ex-president Rafael Correa, may share responsibility for the murder of Ecuadorian Air Force General Jorge Gabela. Murdered in December 2010, Gabela, opposed the government’s purchase of Indian-made Dhruv helicopters.
“There is sufficient evidence of a possible state crime that the prosecutor’s office should follow up with its own investigation,” the assembly commission concluded on Friday. The commission report suggests that 68 people should be investigated for their role in the murder and its possible cover-up, including former President Rafael Correa; former Minister of Justice and the Interior José Serrano; former defense ministers Fernando Cordero and María Fernanda Espinosa; former Justice Ministers Ledy Zúñiga and Lenin Lara; and former security ministers Homero Arrellano and César Navas.
The commission’s report now goes to the full assembly where it will be discussed before being forwarded to the prosecutor, if approved. Six of the seven members of the commission approved the report.
Gabela was murdered after he went public with his objections to the purchase seven Dhruv helicopters which he claimed had safety problems and were not suited to Ecuador’s terrain. After his murder, three of the Dhruvs crashed and the government cancelled orders for more.
Although the report does not suggest that government officials were directly involved in the murder, it says there may have been an orchestrated effort to cover up a scandal. A committee appointed by Correa shortly after Gabela’s murder concluded that Gabela was killed by common criminals, a finding largely refuted by subsequent investigation and testimony.