Quito protesters demand answers over lawyer missing from police building
Quito, Sep 19 (EFE).- Women gathered in the Ecuadorian capital on Monday for protests demanding answers over the whereabouts of a young lawyer who went missing last week from the police training school.
“I knew, I knew, that femicides are taken care of by the police,” chanted the women.
According to initial investigations, in the early hours of Sep. 11, 34-year-old María Belén Bernal went into Quito’s Higher Police School, where her husband is an instructor, but was never recorded leaving the building.
Her husband and now main suspect, Germán Cáceres, was reportedly captured by security cameras leaving in a car, and since giving a statement and being released, his whereabouts have been unknown.
“She was alive when they took her, and we want her back alive,” the activists shouted in front of the police headquarters moments before a press conference in which police general commander Fausto Salinas assured that the search for the lawyer is ongoing.
Salinas, who said he had placed his position at the disposal of President Guillermo Lasso in case his exit from the body is required, said that a dozen police officers will be notified with administrative actions in this case.
He added that there will be a change of authorities at the Higher Police School from which Bernal disappeared, and that it will be led by a colonel from the body, later announced as Irany Ramírez.
Specialized search teams were on the case of the lawyer, as well as her fugitive husband, Salinas said.
Police have put up a $20,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Cáceres, and Salinas did not rule out criminal liability against any officers who may be involved in this case.
The police chief said that the institution also wants the truth to be clarified about what happened to Bernal, whose disappearance has shaken the country due to it happening within the agency in charge of citizen protection.
“Your fight is our fight,” the groups sang outside the police building.
Outside the Pichincha Prosecutor’s Office, women also held signs with slogans such as “State and police, give Maria back,” “Killer badges” and “Not one less for Maria B.”
The groups have not ruled out further protests despite warnings from authorities who have insinuated that this case could be used by them to try to destabilize the government. EFE