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Human Rights Group Reports Evidence of Torture in Ecuador

May 24, 1986

LONDON (AP) _ Amnesty International reported in its May Newsletter that police and military agencies in Ecuador have begun using torture on people arrested on criminal charges from thievery to collaborating with guerrillas.

″A decrease in reports of ill-treatment and torture since 1979, when elections ended (seven) years of military government, appears to have been reversed,″ the Nobel prize-winning human rights organization said in the Newsletter, made available Friday.

″Torture has been reported in the context of detention procedures not previously observed in Ecuador,″ Amnesty said. Those cases involved the seizure of suspects without warrants and their transfer to secret military interrogation centers ″for prolonged interrogation under torture,″ the Newsletter said.

Amnesty cited the cases of medical student Fernando Chavez Bermudez, seized by some 30 armed men in Quito on March 12, 1985 and teacher Marco Benalcazar Gomez, detained without a warrant on Oct. 24, 1985.

Chavez said he was beaten, burned with cigarettes, drenched in cold water and given electric shocks at an unidentified military safe house some distance from Quito. An examination arranged by the School of Medicine found evidence of bruising and burns on his face and body, Amnesty said.

″The authorities never formally acknowledged his arrest, however, and no investigation is known to have been initiated into the case,″ Amnesty said.

Bencalcazar Gomez said he was kicked, punched, had his head held in a tank of cold water, and was hoisted by ropes tied first to his thumbs, then to his middle fingers, at an isolated house in Yahuarcocha.

After a court dismissed a charge of involvement in an extortion case involving the guerrilla group Alfaro Vive Carajo (AVC) on Nov. 4, the teacher was released and underwent a court-ordered examination which found injuries consistent with his allegations of torture, Amnesty said.

″In this and similar cases on which Amnesty International appealed, the authorities responded by declaring that the prisoners were members of AVC, and that no abuses had occurred,″ the Newsletter said.

″To Amnesty International’s knowledge, the government of Ecuador has initiated no investigations in the past year in response to evidence of torture or unacknowledged detention in political cases but has stressed the guilt of alleged victims,″ it said.

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