The murder of a lawyer becomes the emblem of violence against women in Ecuador

Quito, (EFE).- The murder of María Belén Bernal, who was allegedly strangled in a police station by her husband, a fugitive lieutenant, aims to become one of the most emblematic faces of violence in Ecuador, after cause great concern in the country because of the circumstances of the case.

The Ecuadorian population woke up this Thursday still in shock after the worst suspicions were confirmed in the last hours, following the disappearance of Bernal during a visit to her husband, Germán Cáceres, at the Superior School of police and set off all the alarms.

After ten days of intense searches, the body of the 34-year-old lawyer was found in a ravine near the police academy in northern Quito on Wednesday, and an autopsy later revealed that she had been strangled, as detailed this Thursday. the General Commander of the National Police, Fausto Salinas.

“We know that an event happened in the room (of Cáceres within the Superior School of Police),” Salinas explained in statements to the Centro radio station.

“From there (Cáceres) led to the search for an alibi to get rid of the guilt. Which has not happened because the investigative work, articulated with the prosecution, has been very good and, with all the skills and indications, the investigative event is closed, “said the head of the Ecuadorian police.

Classified as femicide

Family and friends attend the funeral wake of lawyer María Belén Bernal, at the University Theater in Quito (Ecuador). EFE/José Jacome

With Lieutenant Cáceres being identified as the main suspect in the murder due to the evidence collected during the investigation, Ecuadorian authorities such as Interior Minister Patricio Carillo did not hesitate to call the event a “femicide”. “.

So, if Cáceres is confirmed as the perpetrator of the murder, Bernal’s death is set to be the most telling face in the long list of femicides recorded in 2022, which according to feminist organizations totaled 206 until last Friday. .

After performing the autopsy, the body of María Belén Bernal arrived this Wednesday at the theater of the Central University of Ecuador, where a burning chapel was set up in front of an inconsolable Elizabeth Otavalo, the mother of the victim, who barely tried to calm Bernal’s son down. , 13 years.

“Today my daughter is already an angel, but it doesn’t stop there. This ends when the criminals have paid their dues. My daughter is a victim. She died inside the Police College. So it’s a state crime, gentlemen. This cannot go unpunished. My daughter won’t be just another statistic,” Otavalo said.

The coffin was greeted with loud cries of “Not one less, long live we love each other” and “let feminicide fall hard”, following Wednesday’s demonstrations by feminist groups who point to the police as also complicit in the murder de Bernal, because everything would have happened in a police station full of law enforcement officers.

Cries of “not one less”

Family and friends attend the funeral wake of lawyer María Belén Bernal, at the University Theater in Quito (Ecuador). EFE/José Jacome

This case has fully touched the hearts of the Ecuadorian police, although its senior staff remain in charge with the exception of the directors of the superior school, who have been dismissed to be replaced by women with the aim of implementing, according to Minister Carrillo, a gender approach in the curriculum of the police training center.

At the same time, a dozen members of the Police have opened a file for having contributed to the event, either by action or by omission, including a cadet who is in temporary prison.

Meanwhile, investigations into the case continue, including operations to find Cáceres, who has been on the run since last week, when he made an initial 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 in the morning, the houses of Cáceres’ sister were searched, in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Quito, as well as the house where lives a friend of the accused cadet.

Ecuadorian police have also activated an international alert over the possibility that Cáceres, who was an instructor at the police academy, has fled the country, in a search that has a government reward of up to $20,000 to anyone who offers information about his whereabouts.

Web edition: JuanK Ochoa

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