Crimes against humanity on trial in Ecuador

Ecuador's National Court of Justice will this week open the country's first trial for crimes against humanity, with four former army generals and colonels and a police general facing charges in the disappearance and torture of three members of the Alfaro Vive Carajo guerilla group. The case was brought by veteran guerillas Luis Vaca, Susana Cajas and Javier Jarrín, who the Fiscal General of the State now admits were "forcibly disappeared" in 1985 during the government of President León Febres-Cordero. "After weeks of torture and sexual violence, Susana Cajas and Javier Jarrín were left in a field with their hands tied," according to the statement. Vaca was illegally held for another three years. He was released "almost by coincidence," after his brother then serving in the armed forces was able to determine his whereabouts. Although Ecuador returned to civilian rule after years of military dictatorship in 1979, rights abuses remained widespread for another decade. Retired military officers continiue to protest the trial, with one ex-general issuing a statement asserting that the AVC were "delinquents, criminals and terrorists." On Nov. 2, some 300 uniformed soldiers and officers demonstrated outside the National Court of Justice to demand "due process" in the case. (La Hora, Ecuador, Nov. 7; La República, Ecuador, TeleSur, Nov. 6)