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  HOME | Ecuador (Click here for more)

Ecuador Faces Legal Quandary over Intra-Indigenous Violence

QUITO – Ecuador’s attorney general said Monday that the Constitutional Court will be consulted regarding what penalties should be imposed in a case involving deadly violence between two different indigenous groups in Amazonia.

Authorities are grappling with how to reconcile the Ecuadorian penal code with indigenous traditions that view revenge killings as legitimate, Galo Chiriboga told reporters.

“For them this is not bad, for us it’s very bad. For them it’s almost nothing, and for us: a terrible crime,” he said.

Early this year, members of the Tagaeari-Taromenane tribe, which has voluntarily isolated itself, were murdered by members of the Waorani tribe, who also kidnapped two girls in revenge for the deaths of two of their elders.

The prior Tagaeari attack on the Waorani elders was itself a reprisal “for earlier deeds,” the attorney general said.

Last month, a court in the Amazonia province of Orellana ordered 15 Waoranis held as suspects pending an investigation.

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, has said that the conflict is “a problem among clans” – the Waorani, incorporated into the rest of society, and the Taromenane, who are in voluntary isolation in the jungle.

The AG’s office in the arraignment filed a charge of mass murder.

Chiriboga said that during the investigation, evidence was collected on the massacre and the kidnapping of the two girls – who are now under protection of the state – and he added that the crime of disappearance could also be considered.

“Up to now, we have not found any bodies, but we have found evidence of murder,” said the attorney general, adding that it was important not to provide “speculative numbers,” a reference to figures that circulated in the press when the case broke.

“What there is no doubt of is that some deaths occurred,” he emphasized.

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