ECUADOR: Ecuadorian president Guillermo Lasso has confirmed that authorities have discovered the body of a 34-year-old female lawyer, named María Belén Bernal, who went missing 10 days ago, after visiting her husband at a police training school in the capital of Quito.
At present, her husband, Lt. Germán Cáceres, remains the prime suspect in her killing and is currently on the run, the police say.
Bernal’s death has sparked mass outrage, resulting in widespread protests and demonstrations of angry Ecuadorians across the country, which has witnessed more than 200 femicides this year.
Officials say her remnants were found on a hill 5km (3 miles) from the training school in question.
Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo announced the discovery of the body on Twitter and wrote, “I deeply regret her death, a femicide that will not go unpunished.”
Commenting on the grim discovery of a young, promising lawyer’s corpse after she went missing more than a week ago, President Lasso expressed his “deep pain and indignation”, vowing that her killer would not get off scot-free and would receive due, punitive judgement. He wrote, “femicide will not go unpunished and all those responsible will be subject to the law.”
In a tweet, he sent his condolences to the victim’s family, comprising of her mother and a young son. As per details provided to the police, Bernal went missing after visiting the facility at 01:30 local time on 11 September.
Following the discovery, the police training school’s head has been sacked and the government placed a bounty on the prime suspect’s head, a total of $20,000 (£17,800).
Cáceres disappeared not long after giving police a statement about his missing wife and was subsequently fired from his job as an instructor at the school.
He remains the subject of a huge manhunt, amid public outrage over the casual handling of the case by the authorities.
Bernal’s death has led to protests from relatives, friends and several women’s rights groups in Quito- as well as calls for justice from her bereaved mother.
Femicide- when a woman is killed because of her gender is on the constant rise in Ecuador, according to the Aldea Foundation, which keeps a tab on the specific crime in the country.
It says 206 women had been killed in Ecuador in 2022 by 3 September.
According to U.N. statistics, roughly 65 out of every 100 Ecuadorean women have suffered some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime.