The last thing María Belén Bernal did was enter the Quito Police High School. The next thing that has been known about her is that her remains have been found on a hill on the outskirts of the capital of Ecuador, behind the police center. The president, Guillermo Lasso, has confirmed 11 days after her disappearance the femicide of the 34-year-old lawyer who was married to a lieutenant, an instructor in that police station.
At mid-morning this Wednesday, the Prosecutor’s Office published on Twitter some images in a wooded area reporting the discovery of bone remains in the framework of the search for the woman, who leaves a 13-year-old son. “Once the human remains found have been extracted, a forensic anthropologist and a forensic doctor, both civilians, will fix, take samples and proceed with the autopsy, as part of the proceedings,” added the Public Ministry. Two hours later, President Lasso, the Minister of the Interior, Patricio Carrillo, and the National Police confirmed the assassination.
The body was identified by a tattoo recognized by a relative, Carrillo explained at a subsequent press conference. The state of decomposition corresponded to the days of disappearance but the cause of death is still under analysis. Tests are also being carried out to see if it presents invoices. “Why didn’t we go there directly? Because we are not fortune-tellers”, replied the minister when a journalist asked why they had found the human remains in an area near the police school that had already been combed. Carrillo specified that he had initially reviewed the broken areas.
Faced with questions about the responsibility of other agents, he emphasized that the action or omission of some members of the police force does not represent the entire institution. He promised to “take measures so that this does not happen again” and that if there are members who have participated, they are submitted to the administration of Justice.
The alleged perpetrator, agent Germán Cáceres, has been on the run since Sunday, September 11, the day María Belén Bernal went to visit him at night at the police school. “We will find Cáceres wherever he is and we will hand him over to justice,” the Interior Minister also posted on Twitter. His message began by saying that “the Ecuadorian Police did their job and found María Belén.” Carrillo has apologized and apologized to the mother of the murdered woman, Elizabeth Otavalo, and her grandson.
The disappearance in police facilities imploded last week within the structure of the body, pointed out both by the Prosecutor’s Office and by the victim’s relatives for lack of control. “The law enforcement officers have the function of finding people; not to disappear them ”, then launched the attorney general, Diana Salazar, before the commotion of the case. According to the Government’s acknowledgment, María Belén Bernal’s entry into the police school on Sunday night had been recorded, but when she left, her husband left in her vehicle without being searched. There was never any record that the woman had left the police precinct.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
In the subsequent proceedings, aspiring police officers acknowledged in their testimonies that they had heard screams on Sunday night and that Lieutenant Cáceres left “dragging something.” Despite the fact that the agent gave a version to the Prosecutor’s Office when reporting the woman’s disappearance, the surveillance measures requested by the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not stop him from fleeing. “This is a heinous crime that hurts and shames us all,” the Police reacted in an official statement after confirming the murder. “It is unacceptable that a police officer has taken the life of another person, when the duty of every police officer is to serve and protect citizens.”
Follow all the international information in Facebook Y Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.