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Three protesters held for nine days, charged with sabotage in Ecuador

During the early morning of April 30, 2014, three women were arrested for allegedly being involved in acts of sabotage. They had shouted out slogans against the Minister of Interior, Mr. Jose Serrano, during an operation that moved more than a thousand prisoners from an old jail facility to a new one located 60 km from Quito.

This incident was reported on by several Ecuadorian media using eyewitness accounts. From the published information, it appears that a judge in Pichincha, Yolanda Cueva, ordered the three women to be put in preventive prison, two of them are human rights activists and the third is a close relative of one of the prisoners transferred to the new center. The new prison facility is being criticized for allegedly not having the right conditions and basic services for prisoners.

As published in El Comercio newspaper, in the remand hearing, prosecutor Clara Aveiga argued that the three women had caused riots and also insulted the Minister of Interior. Hoy explained that for the indictment, the prosecutor had based her allegations on the police report.

Monica Vera, attorney for the Regional Advisory Foundation for Human Rights (Fundación Regional de Asesoría de Derechos Humanos INREDH), one of the organizations funding the women's defense, told Fundamedios that the three women have been prosecuted for sabotage and they were detained until May 9 at the Woman's Center for Social Rehabilitation in Quito. After a hearing in which alternative measures were requested, the three women were released, but must now show up every Monday at the prosecutor's office while the case is investigated.

Mr. Ramiro Avila, university professor and human rights advocate, said on May 5, in an interview for the program "Returning with Andrés Carrión" from Radio Quito and Platinum, that the criminal offences of sabotage and terrorism are "unconstitutional because they violate the principle of legality. Anything is terrorism, that's an unconstitutional problem, I claim that these criminal offenses are inapplicable because they allow discretion. This is more a problem of freedom of expression than a problem of sabotage."

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