Fernando Villavicencio case: Six prisoners accused of assassinating the Ecuadorian presidential candidate murdered in jail

The inmates had recently requested to be transferred to another prison because they feared for their safety. The prosecutor's office is launching an investigation to determine why this did not take place.

The National Service of Attention to Adults Deprived of Liberty (SNAI) issued a statement about the six inmates killed in jail in Ecuador this Friday. They "are of Colombian nationality and were accused of the murder of the former presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio," according to Ecuador's prison authority.

The six deceased - Jhon Gregore R., Andrés Manuel M., Adey Fernando G., Camilo Andrés R., Sules Osmin C. and José Neyder L. - had been accused of being involved in the murder of the right-wing politician in August, while he was at a campaign event in Quito. The attorney general's office reported the day after the murder that a suspect had died after being shot by Villavicencio's security team.

President Guillermo Lasso promised to convene the Security Cabinet "immediately." He also claimed that he would return from New York, from where he planned to travel to South Korea, to "tend to this emergency."

Lasso ordered the dismissal of the director of SNAI, Luis Ordóñez, and the transfer of six "persons deprived of their liberty, linked to the investigation for the murder of Fernando Villavicencio, to protect their safety".

Lingering questions

On Friday afternoon, several disturbances were reported in the prison where the six inmates were being held. Specialized military personnel had to intervene to "take control of the situation," according to the Ecuadorian prosecutor's office. It was then that law enforcement came across the murdered men.

Although the cause of death has not yet been determined, the bodies were sent off for autopsies. An anonymous source told the El País newspaper that the prisoners were hanged.

Three members of staff have been summoned to testify about the events and try to clarify what happened.

Failed transfer

The platform SOS Cárceles Ecuador reported that the people who were accused of killing Villavicencio had requested to be transferred to "a safer prison." The organization assures this request was denied.

The prosecutor's office, however, claimed that there was a transfer order for security reasons, but that this had not been carried out. Officials announced that an investigation would be opened to look into SINAI's actions.