The prosecutor who investigated femicides is murdered in Ecuador

Guayaquil, Ecuador.- A prosecutor who was investigating femicides in Ecuador was assassinated on Monday by gunmen in front of the Prosecutor’s Office in the port of Guayaquil, the judicial authority reported.

Édgar Escobar, who was part of a unit in charge of hate crimes and women based on gender, was “shot this morning” outside the building where he worked, the Prosecutor’s Office said on Twitter.

According to the agency, two of the alleged aggressors have already been arrested on a populous hill in Guayaquil, hit by a wave of crimes linked to drug trafficking that has also hit the prisons of the port with hundreds of deaths in prison massacres between rival gangs.

“In the police action, a motorcycle and the weapon with which they would have shot the victim were seized,” added the Prosecutor’s Office.

The murder of Prosecutor Escobar shakes a country still in shock over the disappearance a week ago of lawyer María Belén Bernal at a police station in Quito.

The woman entered the Police High School (ESP) to visit her husband, Lieutenant Germán Cáceres, and since then there have been no traces of her whereabouts.

Given the suspicion that it could be a femicide, the lieutenant gave a judicial statement, after which he is a fugitive. The government dismissed Cáceres and removed the head of the officer training school from his post.

Ecuador registers high rates of gender violence. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, at least 573 women have been murdered since 2014 in cases classified as femicides.

Only so far in 2022 there have been 206 murders of women, according to Geraldine Guerra, from the Fundación Aldea, which maps femicides in the country.

Two prosecutors and a judge assassinated

Amid the alarm over attacks on women in Ecuador, Escobar’s murder also highlights the violence against the judiciary.

Since last May, three officials have been murdered: in addition to Escobar, a judge in the Amazon town of Lago Agrio (northeast Ecuador, near the border with Colombia) and a transit prosecutor in the fishing port of Manta (southwest). All three were shot to death.

Along with drug trafficking, crime has grown in the country with 18 million inhabitants and located between Colombia and Peru, the largest producers of cocaine in the world.

In 2021, a rate of 14 murders per 100,000 people was recorded, almost double that of 2020.

Bloody clashes between prisoners with links to drug traffickers have left nearly 400 dead since February 2021, since when there have been seven massacres, some of which have become among the worst in Latin America.

Ecuadorian authorities seized an annual record of 210 tons of drugs in 2021 and so far this year about 150 tons.

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