General Jorge Gabela was killed because he opposed the purchase of Dhruv helicopters. To that conclusion had already arrived the Argentine expert Roberto Meza. After ninety days of deliberations and after hearing more than thirty appearances, the parliamentary commission formed to investigate the crime has not been able to establish the name of the masterminds but has gathered enough information to reach a clear conclusion: there was a conspiracy, the one that participated high authorities of correísta Government, to cover up the murder, to hide information, to disappear documents. The epicenter of that cover-up: the Ministry of Justice. Here are some of the keys.
1. Irregularities began in the investigation. The planimetric sketch of the crime scene was not raised ‘in situ’ and, consequently, omits essential parts of the place. There was also no fingerprinting in places where (“evidently” according to the expert Roberto Meza) supported the material authors of the murder. The photographs of the scene are insufficient and incomplete. The reconstruction of the events, by the prosecutor René Astudillo, was not carried out with the detainees; only with the relatives of the victim. Astudillo also did not call the Criminalistics experts for the fixing and the gathering of evidence. The tomographic report of the Vernaza hospital refers to a bullet in the chest of General Gabela but there is no image to support this statement…
The minutes of the committee
2. The minutes of the meetings of the Interinstitutional Committee formed by President Rafael Correa to investigate the murder disappeared. The Ministry of Justice, which chaired this Committee and under whose custody were all the documents, sent the commission a certified letter from which it appears that these acts do not exist. Only the attendance records of the sessions of the Committee were remitted. However, the secretaries of the Committee (Geovanna Palacios and Paola Carrera), in their appearances to the Parliamentary Committee, claimed to have taken minutes of each meeting and delivered those that they had in the memory of their computers: 38 minutes the first one, 77 the second.
The third product
3. The third part of the report of the expert Roberto Meza disappeared under the custody of the Ministry of Justice. In this “third product”, as it is known, the names of the alleged masterminds were established, after the second part determined that the murder was not a common crime but was related to the purchase of the Dhruv helicopters . This report was presented by Roberto Meza before the Interinstitutional Committee at a meeting held at ECU-911 in Itchimbia on November 18, 2013. The then Minister of Justice, Lenin Lara, confirmed that he had received it. However, when Ledy Zúñiga, his successor in office, made the report public, both the conclusions of the second part and the whole of the third had disappeared. She defends the hypothesis of common crime and assures that Meza’s report was only an input for the preparation of the final report, in charge of the Interinstitutional Committee that she chaired. But he has not exhibited any other input that leads to the opposite conclusion to which Meza arrived.
The dhruv: the purchase
4. Relations between senior Air Force officers and the company Sumil (representative of HAL, the manufacturer of the Dhruv) are a mystery. The insistence on buying them, little less than suspicious. Four bidding processes failed (because the Dhruv were not appropriate, because they had proven manufacturing failures, because an international arms embargo made it difficult to obtain spare parts …). However, bidding after bidding, the bidders repeated themselves. There was even an opposite report from the Attorney General’s Office. But on the fifth attempt – and after Gabela left the command of the Air Force – the purchase was finalized. Javier Ponce, then Minister of Defense, has not testified before the Parliamentary Commission.
The dhruv: the arrival
5. Several helicopters were delivered late. They arrived with failures of at least four types: rotor, motor, electronic, transmission. These problems, according to those present, were rectified on the fly, when the helicopters were already in use. A repair report shows that it was necessary to use epoxy putty to solve a defect due to lack of spare parts. The strange thing is that the committee of reception of the helicopters formed by the National Defense Board verified these damages (or had to do so) and did not say a word. (I)