The murder of a lawyer has become a symbol of violence against women in Ecuador
Quito, (EFE).- The murder of María Belen Bernal, strangled to death in a police station by her husband, a lieutenant who remains on the run, was the target of the most symbolic face of violence in Ecuador, the circumstances of the case have caused great alarm in the country.
The population of Ecuador woke up this Thursday when, after the worst suspicions were confirmed in the last hour, Bernal went missing after her husband, German Cáceres, while visiting the Higher Police School, and set off all alarms.
After an intense ten-day search, the remains of the 34-year-old lawyer were found on Wednesday in a ravine near the police school north of Quito, and an autopsy revealed that he had been strangled, as detailed this Thursday by the General Commander of the National Police, Fausto Salinas.
“We know that there was an incident in the bedroom (of the Higher Police School of Cáceres),” Salinas explained in a statement to the Centro radio station.
“From there (Cáceres) led the search for an alibi to absolve him of guilt. Which did not happen because the investigation work, as stated with the prosecutor’s office, has been very good and, with all the skills and indications, the investigation event has been stopped,” said the head of the Ecuadorian police.
Classified as femicide
Because of the evidence gathered during the investigation, Lieutenant Cáceres was identified as the main suspect in the murder, Ecuadorian authorities such as the Minister of the Interior, Patricio Carrillo, did not hesitate to describe the incident as a “femicide”.
Thus, if Cáceres is confirmed as the author of the murder, Bernal’s death is on track to become the most revealing face in the long list of femicides registered in 2022, which totaled 206 as of last Friday, according to feminist organizations.
After the autopsy, the body of María Belen Bernal arrived today Wednesday at the theater of the Central University of Ecuador, where a burning chapel was placed before Elizabeth Otavalo, the mother of the victim, who tried to calm Bernal’s son. , 13 years old.
“Today my daughter is already an angel, but it doesn’t end here. It ends when the wrongdoers pay what they deserve. My daughter is the victim. She died at the Superior Police School. So it’s a state crime, gentlemen. It can’t go unpunished. My daughter is not going to be just another statistic,” Otavalo said.
The coffin was accepted with chants of “not one less, long live we love each other” and “let feminicide be hard,” following protests by feminist groups on Wednesday that also pointed to the police as complicit. The de Bernal murders, like all of them, allegedly took place in a police precinct full of law enforcement officers.
“Not one less” is the cry
This case has completely hit the heart of the Ecuadorian police, although its senior staff remains in charge except for the directors of high schools, who were fired to be replaced by women with the aim of implementing, according to Minister Carrillo, a gender system in the curriculum of the police training center.
At the same time a file has been opened for a dozen policemen who contributed to the event, either by action or omission, including a cadet in temporary prison.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the case continues, including the search for Cáceres, who has been on the run since last week, when he made his first statement to the prosecutor’s office and was released without charge.
As part of the proceedings, the prosecutor’s office reported this Thursday that early morning raids were carried out at the home of Cáceres’ sister, in one of Quito’s most affluent neighborhoods, and where a friend of the accused cadet lives.
Ecuadorian police have activated an international alert that Caceres, who was an instructor at the police school, may have fled the country, in a search that has a reward of up to $20,000 from the government for information. his whereabouts
Web version: Juanque Ochoa