QUITO – Three colonels arrested in the course of the investigation of last week’s police mutiny in Ecuador have been released by a judge, officials said.
The judge released the officers on Saturday, Pichincha province Attorney General Marco Freire said.
“He substituted the measure. Instead of preventive imprisonment, he ordered them not to leave the country, to report every 15 days and to not dispose of assets,” Freire said.
The three police colonels – Manuel Rivadeneira, Julio Cesar Cueva and Marcelo Echeverria – were the first suspects arrested for their alleged role in the uprising.
“The case is continuing,” Freire said, adding that the colonels were being investigated “for all of the incidents of insubordination that happened on Thursday.”
President Rafael Correa told foreign ministers from across South America on Friday that the mutiny by disgruntled police officers was an attempted coup and that, when that strategy failed, “plan B” was to kill him.
Correa, who recently underwent knee surgery, went to the police hospital Thursday morning after being injured when mutinous police accosted him and his bodyguards as they tried to leave the main police barracks in the capital after he addressed the disgruntled cops.
Rebellious police also occupied the National Assembly and disturbances spread across Ecuador, prompting presidential aide Alexis Mera to declare a state of emergency, giving the armed forces responsibility for both external and domestic security.
Loyal police officers and army troops managed to rescue Correa from the siege at the police hospital.
During the dramatic military rescue, the SUV used to remove Correa from the hospital was hit by rifle fire.
The armored vehicle withstood the impact of the bullets.
The government announced the replacement late Friday of the entire top police brass following the uprising.
Freddy Martinez resigned as National Police chief and was replaced by Patricio Franco, Interior Minister Gustavo Jalkh said.
Correa blamed the political party founded by former President Lucio Gutierrez for the uprising.
Gutierrez, who took office in January 2003 and was ousted by Congress in April 2005, has denied any role in the rebellion and said Correa was to blame for heightened tensions in the country.
A total of eight people were killed and 274 others were wounded in disturbances across the Andean country linked to the uprising, the Health Ministry said Friday.