The work to establish the identities of the 68 inmates killed in the massacre this Saturday in the Guayaquil penitentiary, of which have been identified 34, advance as law enforcement agencies try to maintain control of the detention center.
From the early hours of the morning, relatives of the prisoners killed in the midst of clashes between the pavilions – apparently due to disputes between gangs related to drug trafficking that dispute territories – began to arrive outside the morgue in search of information.
As of noon this Sunday, 34 bodies had been recognized and four of them delivered, while the forensic department of the Police had planned to deliver the other 30 until the end of the day.
The 68 bodies had not yet arrived at this center, located in the suburb of Guayaquil, because, according to Colonel Marco Ortiz, national director of technical-scientific investigation of the Police, only 61 bodies could be lifted from the jail.
“The respective autopsies have been carried out and so far we are communicating with the families of these people so that they can carry out the respective procedures here at the Criminalistics facilities,” the officer reported.
The state of the bodies is varied, he said, as some were burned and mutilated in the middle of the clashes, which is why they have only been able to take fingerprints of 45 of the 61 bodies.
The rest of the corpses must be carried out “anthropological identification and, if necessary, a genetic identification. That obviously takes more time, ”Ortiz added.
In a statement, the General Secretariat for Communication said that “the process of handing over the bodies consists of carrying out an autopsy, which must be endorsed by the Prosecutor’s Office; request the authorization of the data from the Civil Registry and verify if they are certified; grant the death certificate and, finally, deliver the body in the coffin to the next of kin ”.
The massacre on Saturday occurred in the same jail where in September there was a massacre in which 118 prisoners died in clashes, which the authorities attribute to the dispute over territories between gangs allegedly linked to drug trafficking.
After that massacre, the president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, declared a state of exception in the prison system.
In search of their relatives
One of the relatives waiting for the identification process was Viviana Encalada. His nephew Edison was in one of the pavilions where the massacre occurred, but he told Efe that, according to the police, his name does not appear on the list of those identified.
“We have already searched hospitals and it is not there. We hope that he has been saved because there were inmates who ran, we hope he is one of those who has escaped to other pavilions, “he said.
The last time they contacted Edison was Friday night, hours before the start of the fighting.
“We want them to put order in that penitentiary. The slaughter that is taking place is not fair (…) What is the president, the minister, doing? All these people are washing their hands with our relatives, they are humans, they are not dogs, ”claimed Escalada.
Eduardo González also came from the province of Esmeraldas in search of his son, who was facing a three-year sentence for attempted murder, after “defending himself against a robbery,” but until Sunday afternoon he had no information about his body.
The father of the family told Efe that he spoke with him on Friday night, that he told him that he heard shots and asked him to alert the police. “My son told me that it seemed like in the west, that you could hear the bullets, what were the military and police doing outside?”
Calm in prisons
According to the Government, during Sunday there had been no “incidents in the country’s deprivation of liberty centers” and, according to reports from the directors of each of the prisons, “order and control is maintained in the precincts and the activities are carried out normally ”.
The president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, and the secretary of Human Rights, Bernarda Ordoñez, held a meeting with an international advisory team to articulate “cooperation in the pacification process,” indicated the Ministry of Communication.
Delegates from the UN and the Program for Assistance against Transnational Organized Crime (PACcTO) participated in the meeting.
Other organizations such as the Judicial Council have also reported on measures to confront the prison crisis.
The Judiciary ordered that criminal and traffic judges and magistrates who resolve cases of violence against women and the family temporarily process the cases of Penitentiary Guarantees in Guayaquil, Portoviejo, Cuenca and Latacunga.
In addition, it ordered that the inmates’ release tickets be “issued and dispatched as a priority, prompt and timely” by the judges, he said in a statement.
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