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Individual assaulted by presidential guard for referring to president as a "fascist"

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 26 February 2011, Marcos Luis Sovenis was physically assaulted by members of the Presidential Guard after he shouted "fascist" at the presidential convoy during the chief of state's visit to the city of Babahoyo, 340km west of Quito.

Sovenis told Fundamedios that he had gone out on his bicycle to buy medicine for his father and on his return rode past the government's headquarters where he saw President Rafael Correa's vehicle with the president on board. Sovenis called him a "fascist" and when the president told him to repeat what he had said, he did so. The president was angered by this and signalled to his security personnel to detain Sovenis.

Sovenis, who is 31, immediately found himself surrounded by at least seven members of the presidential guard who forced him into the back of a truck. They struck him on the head, back, neck, abdomen, liver and kidneys. At one point he was unable to breathe for a few seconds. According to Sovenis, the guards told him that they would have killed him had they been somewhere else.

After the beating, Sovenis suffered strong headaches, vomiting and diarrhoea as the result of an inflammation of the liver which was later diagnosed at a hospital.

He said he was lucky he was not imprisoned. The police reportedly told the presidential guards that they needed a "warrant" and that they had to follow proper procedure.

Sovenis maintained it was not his intention to insult the president, or to be abusive or sarcastic, and that if he called him a "fascist" it was because he really believes that "that is what [Correa] is doing". "I don't take back my words because they seem true to me and I believe I acted in accordance with freedom of expression and my democratic rights," he said.

Sovenis has filed a formal complaint with the local Prosecutor's Office.

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