Ecuadorian Candidate’s Family Files SEO Complaint Against Government

The family of the presidential candidate assassinated on August 9 in Ecuador has filed a complaint against the government and the police chiefs for “murder by voluntary omission”, believing that the public authorities have not guaranteed his protection, indicated Friday their lawyer.

According to Me Marco Yaulema, the former journalist and centrist candidate Fernando Villavicencio had been threatened on several occasions by criminals, and should therefore have benefited from a reinforced security device.

On August 9 Mr. Villavicencio, 59, then in second position in the polls, was shot dead by a commando of Colombian hitmen as he left a campaign rally in Quito. Six Colombians with a heavy criminal past were arrested, and a seventh was killed by the victim’s bodyguards.

Mr. Villavicencio “was threatened by the mafias and everyone knew it, the whole state knew it,” said the lawyer during a press conference.

According to Mr. Yaulema, the close security of the candidate, provided by the police, was failing.

Video shows the victim getting on the right side of an unarmored vehicle. Posted on the other side of the car, a man shot him twice in the face and one in the skull, explained Me Yaulema.

Not enough guards

The assassin tried to flee before being shot by bodyguards. According to the family, Mr. Villavicencio did not have enough bodyguards and the driver of the vehicle was not behind the wheel.

Me Yaulema blamed this lack of protection on President Guillermo Lasso, Interior Minister Juan Zapata, Police Commander General Fausto Salinas, and Intelligence Chief Manuel Samaniego.

“There was no real security,” insisted Me Yaulema, accompanied by Mr. Villavicencio’s sister, an uncle and his eldest daughter. “We say that the Ecuadorian State has not guaranteed the life of a candidate for the presidency of the Republic”.

He recalled that the victim was the author of more than 200 journalistic investigations and had published 11 books, revealing numerous corruption scandals.

In a statement, the Ministry of Government Affairs expressed its “total rejection of the allegations made” and asked that the case not be “politicized” so that “investigations can move forward”.

Mr. Villavicencio, who became a deputy, was also a fierce opponent of ex-president Rafael Correa, whom he had sent to the dock thanks to one of his investigations. A refugee in Belgium, the former president was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison in this case.

The widow of Mr. Villavicencio and his relatives directly implicated – but without presenting evidence – the Correa camp, accusing him of having knowledge of the murder and of “links with criminal gangs”.

Villavicencio’s replacement in Sunday’s presidential election, Christian Zurita, also a journalist, said Thursday he suspected “transnational crime” of being behind the assassination.

Before his death, candidate Villavicencio said he was threatened by a dangerous, currently imprisoned gang leader, alias “Fito”. His group, “Los Choneros”, is believed to be linked to the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel and dissidents from Colombia’s FARC guerrillas operating on the border between the two countries.

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