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Human rights cases

Jaime Ricaurte Hurtado González, Ecuador

Jaime Ricaurte Hurtado González had uncovered claims of high-level corruption. Photo courtesy of Partido MPD

MP and presidential hopeful Jaime Ricaurte Hurtado González was murdered outside Ecuador’s parliament building in 1999. Another MP and an official also died. The masterminds have never been brought to justice.

Jaime Ricaurte Hurtado González had just walked out of Ecuador’s parliament building after a morning session in February 1999 when he was shot and killed. He was 62.

The left-wing MP and former presidential candidate was a critic of the government’s economic policies and had strong links with trades unions. He had also uncovered information about a web of corruption involving high-profile figures.

A second parliamentarian, Pablo Vicente Tapia Farinango, and their assistant, Wellington Borja Nazareno, also died in the attack. The three gunmen are reported to have calmly left the heavily policed area without any attempt being made to detain them.

The murders sent shockwaves across Ecuador, where politically motivated killings are rare.

The crime was initially blamed on a group of known criminals, who had allegedly killed him to stop him setting up paramilitary groups in Ecuador.

But a commission of inquiry set up by the government disputed this version of events and pointed out numerous inconsistencies in the original police report. It highlighted the lack of a proper inquiry into all possible suspects, and the “dubious role” of some police officers.

Two of the alleged gunmen are facing charges, but the instigators have never been found. Fresh legal challenges have emerged over whether the murders were so long ago that legal action is no longer possible because of the statute of limitations.

IPU believes bringing the two men to trial is crucial to the pursuit of justice, not least because they may be able to help shed full light on the crime. It has expressed deep concern at the lack of full justice in the case, so many years after the murders took place.