Ecuador State Accused of ‘Murder by Willful Omission’
Just two days before Ecuador goes into elections, the family of Fernando Villavicencio, the assassinated Ecuadorian presidential candidate, has accused the state of murder by willful omission. The complaint highlights President Guillermo Lasso and the Juan Zapata, the Interior Minister, for failing to protect Villavicencio.
The family’s lawyer Marco Yaulema said the government had to watch over the life of Fernando Villavicencio, knowing that he was a journalist who had received many threats. Moreover, the late presidential candidate had stated publicly in the past that he had received threats from various criminal groups that allegedly controlled the Ecuadorian state.
Villavicencio was an outspoken anti-corruption candidate and former investigative journalist. He was shot dead on August 9 when he was leaving a campaign rally at a school north of the capital Quito. The broad daylight execution has brutally shaken Ecuador ahead of the presidential and legislative elections.
Zapata, the Interior Minister, said two internal investigations had been opened with the police, with the results to be ready by next week. He said the government respected the family’s decision and they are within their rights. “If they believe that it is necessary, we can only respond through the legal basis that we have.” Zapata said more than 10,000 police and military officers are being deployed to secure the election process.
Meanwhile, President Lasso said it was unacceptable that the actions of the Ecuadorian authorities against Villavicencio were considered premeditated. His government rejected the complaints and asked the case not to be politicized. “The justice system will be allowed to move forward with the investigations and reach a procedural truth.”
Last week, six Colombian men were arrested for their suspected involvement in the killing of Villavicencio. Candidates increased their security measures following the assassination. With the elections to take place on Sunday, fears of violence and unrest are likely to keep voters away.