Five suspects in Ecuador candidate killing will go to trial-prosecutor

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 3:49 PM

By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) – Five suspects accused of involvement in the assassination of Ecuadorean anti-corruption presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, who was gunned down in Quito last August, will go to trial, the attorney general’s office said on Wednesday.

A sixth suspect will be released according to a judge’s ruling, the office added.

Villavicencio, a former legislator and crusading journalist, was shot while leaving a campaign event, becoming the most prominent victim of the country’s spiking violence.

Theories abound about the reasons for Villavicencio’s killing and an investigation into who ordered it is ongoing.

One gunman was killed at the scene and the case was further clouded in October when seven other suspects were murdered in jail.

The remaining six suspects were arraigned in a two-day hearing. They include two people prosecutors say are leaders of factions within the Los Lobos gang.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb)