(CNN Spanish) – The Minister of Government of Ecuador, Gabriel Martínez, reported this Sunday that José Augusto Briones, former Secretary General of the Presidency and former Minister of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources, died in a Quito prison.
The cause of death is being investigated. We will continue to report on this unfortunate event in the next few hours, “Martínez said in a Twitter message.
The National Service of Comprehensive Attention to Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders of Ecuador (SNAI) said in the same social network that the death of Briones was being investigated as “presumed suicide” and that the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office were already carrying out the respective procedures in the incident.
Hours later, the Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that it had lifted the body of Briones and that two prosecutors would be, for the moment, in charge of the investigations, without elaborating on the causes they are investigating.
Then, the Minister of Government wrote on Twitter that the legal medicine report of the Ecuadorian Police confirms that the cause of the death of the former official was by hanging and that it would be a suicide.
Forensic Medicine Report @PoliceEcuador establishes that the cause of death of José Agusto Briones is hanging. The indications suggest that it is a suicide. The investigation is carried out @FiscaliaEcuador.
✝️ We regret his death. Our condolences to his family.
– Gabriel Martínez (@martinezjg) May 24, 2021
The president of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, lamented the death of the former official on Twitter.
«I receive with deep pain the news of the death of my dear friend José Augusto Briones. I will always remember him for his kind and caring demeanor. My condolences to his family and friends, “he wrote.
Briones was arrested on April 13 in a series of raids carried out by the Ecuadorian Prosecutor’s Office as part of an investigation opened in 2019 on suspicions of organized crime related to alleged acts of corruption in the state oil company Petroecuador.
A day later, a judge from the Criminal Chamber of the National Court of Justice of Ecuador issued preventive detention against Briones and six other people for their “alleged participation in the crime of organized crime,” the State Attorney General’s Office reported in his account of Twitter
Before entering the hearing in Quito on April 14, Briones’ lawyer, Juan Fernando Salazar, told the media that his client collaborated with the Prosecutor’s Office for their investigations and that they found “no further support” on his case.
Ana María Cañizares contributed to this report.