IACHR team did not investigate kidnapping of journalists, prosecutor says
The Ecuadorian prosecutor, Iñigo Salvador, has insisted today that the Special Monitoring Team (ESE), created to accompany the investigation of the kid nappingand murder of a journalistic team on the border with Colombia, did not take advantage of “the time it had to his disposition to conclude the work”.
“That the ESE has not taken advantage of the time at its disposal to conclude the work, is not something that can be imputed to the Ecuadorian State,“Salvador reiterated at a press conference held today in Quito, after the publichearing last Thursday in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR),which dealt with the work carried out by the ESE for six months.
The Attorney General explained that the Ecuadorian State does not see “neither the necessity nor the legal relevance” to extend the duration of the mission of the experts in the country, especially “when in their investigation they seem to be emphasizing the assumptions mediated authors of the crime (…), and this is not within their mandate. “
In this regard, the State’s attorney justified Ecuador’s refusal to allow additional time for an expert report at the border – about the situation of insecurity for the practice of journalism – as it was not believed possible that the ESE would finish the report before to conclude the period that had been given to carry out its mission.
“The ESE has in its hands all the information that would allow it to make recommendations to the Ecuadorian State on the security measures to be taken for the exercise of journalism in the border area; we do not see how late there is the need to carry out this expert opinion after six months, “here asoned.
He has also again asked the IACHR to lift the precautionary measures, protection,imposed on April 12 this year because, at that time, it was not known that the team of journalists of the newspaper El Comercio had been killed by theself-styled front “Oliver Sinisterra”, an armed group split off from the FARC.
Salvador recalled that the precautionary measures are intended to “protect situations of seriousness and urgency that present a risk of irreparable harm to persons or the object of a petition to the organs of the inter-American system,” and since that irreparable damage was already caused, “These measures have to be lifted, they are no longer valid,” he said.
Likewise,he assured that the filing of these precautionary measures will not imply that the Attorney General’s Office will stop investigating what happened in Marchand April of this year.
On this, he admitted that the Public Ministry would investigate those criminal acts that occurred in Ecuadorian territory or by citizens of the country,although the main hypothesis discussed by the prosecutor of the case, Wilson Toainga, is that the kidnapping and murder was committed on Colombian soil.
“It could be that in the investigation of Dr. Toainga the contrary conclusion is reached, that the crime was committed in Ecuadorian territory, then the direct and mediated authors will be judged here,” the attorney general pointed out.
He also denied that Ecuador has prevented access to the documents and added that the law “establishes that this prior investigation is absolutely confidential”, so it was not possible to deliver copies of these texts tothe group of experts.
Finally,he reiterated that the Ecuadorian State “will not cease to persecute those whose responsibility has been established, regardless of whether they are private individuals or state agents”, once the criminal process ends.
The journalist Javier Ortega, the photographer Paúl Rivas and the driver Efraín Segarra, who formed a press team of the newspaper El Comercio, disappeared on March 25 in a sector of the border between Ecuador and Colombia, when they investigated the situation of violence in this zone.
On April 13 the Ecuadorian authorities announced that their bodies had been foundin Colombian territory.
Relatives of the victims have demanded transparency from the authorities of both countries to clarify the case and have requested assistance from the IACHR in the investigations. (I)