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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 194th session
(Geneva, 20 March 2014)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Jaime Ricaurte Hurtado González and Mr. Pablo Vicente Tapia Farinango, a member and substitute member respectively of the National Congress of Ecuador who were murdered in broad daylight in the centre of Quito on 17 February 1999, along with a legislative assistant, Mr. Wellington Borja Nazareno, and to the resolution it adopted at its 192nd session (March 2013),

Taking into consideration the information provided by the source on 14 February 2014,

Recalling the following:

  • The Special Commission of Inquiry (CEI) set up immediately after the murders to help elucidate them has from the outset been sharply critical of the conduct of the investigation and of the prosecution authorities, notably their scant consideration of the serious leads it presented linking Mr. Hurtado’s murder to his uncovering of a web of corruption involving high-profile figures;

  • Two culprits, Mr. Ponce and Mr. Contreras, were convicted in March 2009 at final instance and are currently serving a 16-year prison term for their role in the murders;

  • In 2009 and 2010, two suspects, Mr. Washington Aguirre and Mr. Gil Ayerve, were arrested in the United States of America and Colombia respectively, and their extradition requested by the Ecuadorian authorities for their alleged implication in the murder; Mr. Ayerve, who was also facing charges in connection with drug-trafficking, was extradited in April 2010; on 8 November 2010, the Second Criminal Chamber of the National Court of Justice of Ecuador ruled that, pursuant to Articles 101, 108 and 114 of the Criminal Code, the statute of limitations, which in Ecuador is 10 years for the crime of murder, had expired, thereby barring any criminal proceedings against him for the murders; it therefore ordered the national police not to arrest Mr. Ayerve; in response, the National Assembly of Ecuador, in a resolution adopted on 25 November 2010, pointed out that the ruling disregarded the Organic Code on the Function of the Judiciary, which states that, for the periods during which the Supreme Court of Justice was suspended owing to the extraordinary events of 2005, 2006 and 2008, the statute of limitations was likewise suspended; the National Assembly also affirmed that the ruling was in breach of Article 23 of the 1998 Constitution, which states that political crimes are not subject to the statute of limitations, and called on the National Court of Justice to take all necessary legal steps to ensure that those responsible for the murders were held to account,
Considering that, on the basis of the information currently on file, it is unclear whether Mr. Ayerve is still in detention today, since his lawyer subsequently pleaded that he could not stand trial for anything other than the charge leading to his extradition and that this charge could no longer be prosecuted owing to the statute of limitations; the lawyers for the deceased MPs have challenged this position, arguing that the murder is a political crime/crime against humanity and therefore not subject to any statute of limitations, a matter which came up last for hearing before the National Court on 17 February 2014; considering that in March 2013, the other accused, Mr. Aguirre, was apprehended in Italy, where he had gone after fleeing/leaving the United States; the Ecuadorian authorities have subsequently asked for his extradition, which request appears to be pending,
  1. Remains deeply concerned that, more than 15 years after these high-profile murders were committed, the instigators have not yet been identified and brought to trial, together with all the alleged perpetrators;

  2. Remains convinced that criminal proceedings against Mr. Ayerve and Mr. Aguirre are crucial to the pursuit of truth and justice, particularly since they provide a crucial opportunity to give due consideration to the work of the CEI, including the substantive leads it presented for an alternative line of inquiry to shed full light on the crime;

  3. Reaffirms that, in addition to the arguments to be found in Ecuadorian legislation in support of continued criminal legal action against both suspects, in many jurisdictions across the world the statute of limitations for murder, one of the most heinous of crimes, far exceeds 10 years and is suspended in specific circumstances, most commonly when the suspects, as in this case, are on the run;

  4. Calls, therefore, on the judicial authorities to interpret the applicable legal provisions and jurisprudence as broadly as possible, so that both suspects will indeed stand trial for their alleged involvement in the murders; wishes to be informed of the decision by the court in the case of Mr. Ayerve regarding the legal qualification of the crime and to know whether he is still in detention or, at the very least, at the disposal of the judicial authorities;

  5. Sincerely hopes that Mr. Aguirre’s extradition, five years after he was first arrested in the United States of America, can soon be completed; wishes to be kept informed of progress in this regard;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent Ecuadorian authorities, the source and any third party likely to be in a position to supply relevant information;

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report back to it in due course.

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