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Resolution adopted without a vote by the IPU Council
at its 170th session (Marrakech, 23 March 2002)

The Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Jaime Ricaurte Hurtado González and Mr. Pablo Vicente Tapia Farinango, a member and substitute member of the National Congress of Ecuador, respectively, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/170/13.c(ii)-R.1), and to the relevant resolution adopted at its 169th session (September 2001),

Taking account of the information provided by a member of the delegation of Ecuador at the hearing held with the Committee on the occasion of the 107th Conference (March 2002),

Recalling that the two MPs concerned and their assistant, Mr. Wellington Borja Nazareno, were shot dead on 17 February 1999 in the vicinity of the National Congress; the preliminary police report which the President of the Republic made public two days later concluded that the motive for the killing was Mr. Hurtado’s links with the Colombian guerrilla movement; however, the Special Commission of Inquiry (CEI) set up by the Government to establish the truth has described these findings as “fabricated, incomplete and contradictory”, and has gathered evidence suggesting that Mr. Hurtado's investigations into corruption cases involving high-profile figures from both business and political circles may have been the motive for the crime,

Recalling that three persons, namely Mr. Ponce, Mr. Merino and Mr. Aguirre, were arrested on 18 February 1999 and sentenced on 2 August 2000 to six years’ imprisonment for criminal association in connection with the triple murder; however, they were granted early release for good conduct by the National Director of Social Rehabilitation after serving only two years of their sentence; in affirming the lawfulness of his decision before Congress, he failed, according to the CEI, to produce any real evidence that Mr. Aguirre, who was charged with drug trafficking while in detention, and Mr. Merino, who was involved in a prison brawl, had indeed displayed such conduct; considering in this respect that, on 6 August 2001, Mr. Ponce and Mr. Aguirre failed to appear following a summons in the triple murder case and may have left the country,

Recalling that the investigating judge in the case has so far not ordered the preventive detention of the presumed author of the triple murder, Mr. Freddy Contreras Luna, who is currently in pre-trial detention on another murder charge and may soon be released since under Ecuadorian law one must be tried within a year or released,

Considering that on 25 February 2002 the investigating judge closed the preliminary investigation; noting that the CEI has raised the following the concerns in this respect: (a) only 30% of the evidence-taking ordered by the judge has been completed, excluding in particular the calls made from Mr. Aguirre's mobile telephone shortly before the murder; (b) the National Police have not complied with their obligation to ensure the appearance of civil witnesses, as a result of which the majority of them have not testified; (c) police witnesses who appeared declared themselves "biased" in their judgement in a bid to undermine the legitimacy of their statements; (d) the prosecution was mostly absent when investigative acts were carried out and, when it was present, did not ask any questions in most instances; (e) on 11 March 2002, the prosecutor refused to sum up for the prosecution, as his statutory duty requires, claiming that he had been subjected to slanderous criticism by Lenín Hurtado, the son of the assassinated MP, and his lawyer on account of a complaint both had lodged several months before with the Prosecutor General regarding the prosecution's poor performance in this case,

Considering further that on 21 February 2002, Mr. Marcelo Andocilla López, the Commission’s adviser, presented its report Crime and Silence to Congress; the following day he was intercepted by two vehicles and, after being blindfolded and beaten by three men, left unconscious in the Metropolitano park; on 4 March 2002, the President of the Commission requested the Prosecutor in Pichincha to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the crime,

Considering that, despite two Congress resolutions requesting it to pay the families of the victims pensions in accordance with past practice, the Government has failed to do so, claiming that no provision had been made for them in the budget,

Considering finally that, in her letter of 25 September 2001, the Prosecutor General reiterated her continuing determination to bring to justice those responsible for the triple murder,

  1. Thanks the delegate of Ecuador for the information provided;
  2. Is alarmed at the attack on the Special Commission's adviser one day after he presented its report to Congress; considers that this adds weight to the fears that the murder was politically motivated; urges the authorities to investigate the matter, as their duty requires, and to afford the necessary protection to the CEI members and staff;
  3. Notes with concern that many of the civil witnesses who were ordered to appear have not been heard despite an obligation of the National Police to ensure their appearance; that police witnesses have allegedly attempted to undermine the legitimacy of their own statements, and that no full investigation has taken place of the calls made from Mr. Aguirre's mobile telephone;
  4. Expresses therefore deep concern at the closure of the preliminary investigation, entailing as it does the risk that the proper establishment of penal responsibilities in this crime may be seriously hampered; would appreciate receiving observations from the competent authorities in this respect;
  5. Fails to understand the justification for Mr. Aguirre and Mr. Merino being granted early release and not being compelled to be present in the proceedings, together with Mr. Ponce, and for the possibility that the presumed perpetrator, Mr. Contreras, may also soon be set free;
  6. Is deeply shocked that the district Prosecutor refused to present the summing-up for the prosecution, as his duty requires, thereby adding to misgivings about his conduct in the case;
  7. Appreciates the Prosecutor General's stated commitment to resolving this case; urges her to ensure that the prosecution in this case complies with its statutory duties and makes every effort to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice;
  8. Affirms that Parliament, as a guardian of human rights, has a particular role in ensuring that the triple murder does not go unpunished; calls on the National Congress, in particular its human rights committee, to avail itself of its oversight function and to take firm action to monitor the proceedings in this case, thereby ensuring the sound administration of justice; also calls on the National Congress to lend its full support to the CEI's endeavour to establish justice and shed full light on the identity of those who masterminded the triple murder;
  9. Deeply regrets, particularly in view of the magnitude of the crime, that the Government has failed to take action on the resolutions of the National Congress and not yet paid pensions to the families of the victims; urges the Government to do so without further delay;
  10. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the President of the Republic, the President of the National Congress, the Minister of Justice, the Prosecutor General, the Head of the National Police, the Special Commission of Inquiry and the source;
  11. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session (September 2002).

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