Ecuador arrests retired officers for suspected crimes against humanity

QUITO Tue Oct 1, 2013 8:34pm EDT

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QUITO (Reuters) - A judge in Ecuador ordered the arrest of three retired senior military officers on Tuesday and the house arrest of seven more on charges of committing crimes against humanity almost 30 years ago.

The retired officers, who are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, are accused in connection with crimes including torture, kidnappings and sexual violence that were allegedly committed in 1985 against three members of an armed leftist revolutionary group.

A spokesman for the National Court of Justice said more evidence will be gathered in the next three months, then authorities will convene a judicial panel to prosecute the case. It could take years to reach a verdict.

Local media reported that two of the seven retired officers ordered to be placed under house arrest are living outside Ecuador.

A statement by the attorney general said the crimes were committed at a military prison on the outskirts of Quito, where the three members of the self-proclaimed Marixst-Leninist group, Alfaro Vive Carajo, were taken after being arrested by troops.

The judicial order follows a report by a commission set up by President Rafael Correa to investigate crimes that were allegedly committed by the security forces in the 1980s during the rule of former President Leon Cordero.

Correa, a U.S.-trained economist and avowed leftist, has given Cabinet positions to ex-members of the Alfaro Vive Carajo group, which was dissolved years ago.

(Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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