The report speaks of illegal arrests, of searches without warrants, of opponents to the Correismo that were linked when the investigations were about to close, of violation of guarantees of due process.
The details of these judicial “irregularities” during the previous government were collected by the Bureau of Truth and Justice. Today they will be presented publicly.
The case of Margoth Escobar appears in that document. She was tried in 2015 for protesting against an oil project and they opened a file for attack and resistance, a crime punishable by jail from six months to two years. Now remember that a judge called her to reserved audiences on holidays or at dawn. She says the magistrate even accepted a private accusation when the investigation phase was over.
Escobar told these details at a public hearing before the five members of the table, created by the Judicial Council on August 21 of last year. Of the 247 cases that arrived at the Table, in similar proceedings the testimonies of 77 people who said they were persecuted by judges and prosecutors during the time of the correísmo were known.
After analyzing these cases, the Bureau established 14 conclusions. In one of these it is said that between 2007 and 2017 “there was political persecution” and that the judicial system disrespected the processes. Therefore, the Board identified 493 indications that warn of violations of due process.
The report also includes the case of 23 indigenous authorities of Cañar Alto. They were prosecuted for kidnapping, damage to the property of others and kidnapping for ransom. This process was opened after applying indigenous justice in different cases between 2015 and 2016.
According to Paúl Jácome, president of the table, in the correísmo “indigenous justice practices were criminalized”. For example, after a judicial process, seven leaders were sentenced to five years in prison.
According to the report, the judges did not consider the testimonies and evidence presented by the defendants’ lawyers. Among those investigated is José Sarmiento, president of the Indigenous Justice Council of San Pedro de Cañar. His lawyers told the Bureau that the prosecutor in the case included “false evidence” in the case file and were received by the judges.
The report also includes a supposed “extortion network” in the Alto Cañar that would involve judges. The investigation determined that the judicial offices accused indigenous leaders of kidnapping and asked for up to USD 50,000 in exchange for not linking them in the criminal proceedings. If they did not pay they were imprisoned.
The names of these magistrates are included as part of the report, in a list of 495 judges and prosecutors involved in the different cases that the Board met. Jácome will ask the Judicial Council to investigate the officials. In that list are also the judge and the prosecutor who knew the death of anti-mining leader José Tendetza.
In 2014, the body of the leader was found tied to a tree in the community of Yanúa Kim, Zamora Chinchipe. According to the file, the prosecutor who attended the body’s removal ordered that he be buried as an unidentified person in a Yantzaza cemetery, and requested that the case be closed. Two years later, “due to pressure from the relatives, the Prosecutor’s Office initiated the reserved investigation.”
In that case, there were two workers who were prosecuted. However, in 2016, a court acquitted the suspects. This ruling was ratified by the Provincial Court of Zamora Chinchipe, and the National Court did not admit the cassation appeal either.
Patricia Carrión, a lawyer who took the case, said that “an irregularity was that by not establishing criminal liability against the two defendants, the judge did not request that other possible perpetrators to be investigated.” (I)