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Montevideo, September 21st 2023 - 22:02 UTC



Ecuador sacks Interior Minister over police officer wife's murder scandal

Monday, September 26th 2022 - 10:35 UTC
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While demanding Carrillo's resignation, President Lasso also expressed his solidarity with Bernal's family While demanding Carrillo's resignation, President Lasso also expressed his solidarity with Bernal's family

Ecuador's Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo has been sacked by President Guillermo Lasso after the official was linked to a case of femicide, it was reported in Quito. Colonel Juan Zapata has been appointed as the new Minister of Interior.

Social aid groups want the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to monitor the investigation into the killing of Lawyer María Belén Bernal, 34, who had last been seen alive when entering the Police High School. Her husband, Police Lieutenant Germán Cáceres was also captured on video. He is now a fugitive.

Carrillo had promised that all those responsible for Bernal's murder will pay and assured that there will be no esprit de corps to protect the perpetrator. “All those who allowed this to happen, by action or omission, will be subjected to justice and internal administrative processes,” Carrillo had said Wednesday, September 21, when Bernal's body was found almost 4 kilometers from the Police High School

After he was forced to resign, Carrillo posted on Twitter that “one must always keep good spirits and emotional intelligence.” He added that “it is never a good idea to postpone the important things in life. It is never a waste of time to attend to what is essential.”

While demanding Carrillo's resignation, President Lasso also expressed his solidarity with Bernal's family in a broadcast message while admitting that his duty as head of state was to reestablish the confidence of the citizens. Lasso also ordered the dismissals of Police Generals Freddy Goyes and Giovanni Ponce.

“General Patricio Carrillo has dedicated his life and loyalty to the ideal of a safe country. However, after the events of the last days I have decided that his service ends,” Lasso said on TV when he also described Bernal's murder as “femicide.”

Bernal's body was found 10 days later on a hill in the north of Quito, close to the police school, while her husband is now a fugitive from justice.

Carrillo had been appointed by Lasso as Minister of the Interior on March 30 of this year. The President had split the Ministry of Government into two: Government, to deal with political matters, under Francisco Jiménez; and Interior, for citizen security issues. Carrillo is a retired police general with a career of over 35 years on the force, which included the post of deputy police attaché at the Embassy of Ecuador in Colombia and of a professor and police instructor.

In October 2019, he was in charge of security operations in the national strike against the economic measures of former President Lenín Moreno called by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) and other social groups, for which he has been heavily criticized. In January 2020 he was appointed General Commander of the Police, a position he held until March 2021, when he was replaced by Tannya Varela.

Zapata, also a retired policeman who reached the rank of lieutenant colonel, is popularly known as Captain Zapata. “To lead the structural change that the Ministry of Interior needs, I have appointed Juan Zapata as its new head. He is a great professional, capable of providing the support we need at this time. He will have the full support of the Government in this new mission,” Lasso said on Twitter.

The new minister gained notoriety for his involvement in a nationwide campaign addressing road security. He retired in 2013. A year later he was appointed secretary general of Security at the Quito City Council.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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