QUITO, Ecuador – Three police colonels were under criminal investigation Saturday for failing to prevent a massive protest by their subordinates against President Rafael Correa that spun out of control, claiming at least five lives.
The three are being investigated for negligence, rebellion and attempted assassination, said Prosecutor Gonzalo Marco Freire. Ordered arrested on Friday, they were released Saturday on their own recognizance and barred from leaving the country.
Freire told the Associated Press that the three “should have known what their subordinates were doing.” They are: Quito’s metropolitan police chief, the provincial police commander and the head of the barracks where Correa was roughed up and tear gassed when he went to confront angry police.
Under the state of siege declared during Thursday’s unrest, their 24-hour detention could have been extended indefinitely. The state of siege expires Monday but could be renewed.
Correa contends the daylong revolt by hundreds of police over benefit cuts, which turned violent and ended with him being spirited out of a hospital in a shootout between loyal troops and rebels, amounted to a coup attempt.