Ecuador court OK’s jailing of police colonel, 12 officers during probe of police uprising

By Gonzalo Solano, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ecuador court orders 13 police held during probe

QUITO, Ecuador — A court issued an order Thursday authorizing the jailing of 12 police officers and a police colonel while prosecutors investigate last week’s police uprising that resulted in five deaths.

After a seven-hour hearing, Criminal Court Judge Tania Molina ratified an arrest warrant that will let authorities hold the 13 police personnel for 90 days.

Defense lawyer Patricio Armijos said he would file an appeal seeking to overturn the detention order with the Provincial Court of Justice.

Armijos said three other officers were dropped from the proceedings and 27 were released but must appear before the judge once a week while authorities look into the revolt against President Rafael Correa over a new law that would strip police of promotion bonuses.

The highest ranking officer jailed, Col. Rolando Tapia, had been commander of the legislature guard. He was in front of about 100 hundred striking officers who scuffled with legislators who tried to enter the National Assembly during the unrest Sept. 30.

Marco Freire, the chief prosecutor for Pinchincha province, which includes the capital, Quito, told reporters that the investigation also is looking at the participation of dozens of air force personnel who took over the airports in Quito and Guayaquil during the uprising.

Authorities also have said they plan to question some 220 police officers suspected of being in a crowd at a police barracks where some officers roughed up and tear gassed the president when he arrived to talk to them about their revolt.

Correa was taken to a nearby police hospital for treatment, then was trapped inside for hours by police gathered outside. He was finally rescued then army commandos firing assault rifles and concussion grenades stormed into the facility and hustled him away.

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