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  • Writer's pictureSanni & Gerri@

Baños Part 2: The police - to protect and serve?

The criminal complaint After we identified all our things at the police station, we can at least take Gerriet's wallet with us. Everything else must remain; evidence. We go directly to another police station to make our official statement and file a complaint. As he, let's call him Chief Commissioner, and his entourage are irritated finding out that we can't speak Spanish at all and of course none of them can speak English, only a call to Nico can help. Luckily for us that we are in Baños together with Viola and Nico. We met the two at Cotopaxi and decided to travel a little together. Apart from having a great time together, this fact is also our salvation in Baños. Without the support, in perfect Spanish, from our "translator" Nico, we will probably still be with those in the office today. Fortunately, we can reach him and he is by our side in no time. The recording of Gerriet's statement takes forever. Not only does Nico help us translate, but he also corrects the secretary's mistakes while writing down the statement. We are a little irritated when the High Commissioner personally adjusts the statement "a little bit" at the end. Still being surprised, but we don't want to be petty-minded either.

There is still the believe of the police that this act is part of a larger gang. The aim of our statement is to file a complaint so that the two detainees go to jail. Our helper Christian now also has to provide his personal details and files a statement. He does not want to do this due to fear of organized crime. He suspects connections of the police to that same organizations. This is not unusual. The High Commissioner reminds him of his duty as a citizen and forces him to do so. Before Christian leaves the building in a hurry and visibly unhappy, we would like to thank him again. We are super sorry that our rescuer got into this situation. Increasingly, we are also a little worried ourselves. Who wants to mess with a gang in South America?! After approx. 3 hours everything is finally done and we ask to get our things back.

Nada, it is not that easy.

We will be invited to an official hearing in court for the next day, where we will then have to apply for getting our backpack back. We don't know exactly when this will take place. Nico gets 2 numbers - from the judge and court servant. He should contact them via WhatsApp the next morning at 8 a.m. In parallel in another room a policeman from Policia National (these are the heavy boys) asks Sanni for her mobile phone number to let us know later via WhatsApp. Another number? But OK, better one number too much than too little. After all, he was the operations manager and seems to have a real interest in punching the gang. Why exactly he wants a copy of Sanni's passport via WhatsApp is rather strange. But we are decent tourists and so Sanni responded to the request. Celebrities of Baños When finally leaving the office, we go to Viola and Nico's hostel together. The former has been waiting hours without knowing what's going on. At the stop at the supermarket to buy a beer, a guy suddenly comes to us and asks if we are the ones who have been stolen. We are reluctant to answer and feel uncomfortable. Next, he shows us the video of the surveillance camera on his cell phone! Whaaatt?? Where does that come from? He wants to know how it ended, whether we have our things back and what happens the thieves. We "refuse" the statement. Then he goes into the supermarket and plays the video to everyone there. We realise: we stick out like a sore thump here. So we walk straight to the hostel. On the way, we are approached by someone again. Now the mania for persecution starts. We tell Viola the incredible story and later we prefer to take a taxi to our hostel instead of walking. And then the third time: Holá, Holá! Aren't you the two from this video? Again we flicker over the cell phone screen. That's too much for Sanni - she's on the verge of scolding tourette and has set up her evil eye. The young man explains that there is a WhatsApp group of people who work in tourism. They have been diligently sharing the video there all day. This should help to identify the thieves and make the place safer overall. Well, okay, sounds kind of nice. Or is that all mafia?! Meanwhile, the hostel owner of Nico and Viola also shows the video to the two.

He got it from Tic Toc! Can you still follow?!

We need a beer first. But the break doesn't take long: an extensive WhatsApp chat with the policeman starts. We must state the purchase price for each item from our backpack, which is sent to us individually by photo. Rule followers as we are, we answer of course. It's finally almost 9:00 p.m. when we are finished and the policeman sends us funny emojis. However, we don't have a court appointment for the next day, yet.


At the park The next morning; it's Saturday and Nico has been trying to contact the two numbers from the court alternately since 8:00 a.m. No answer. Did we already say that we won't get our things back for the next 4-6 weeks, if we don't show up for the trial? Then the message from the "Super-police-man". The trial is at 11:00 a.m. and he urgently wants to meet with us beforehand. It's about the video and it's important that our interpreter is there. „Yes, of course“. Sanni asks when we should be at the police station. No - it's best to meet at your hostel, he answers. Where do you live? Alarm bells on! No, we certainly don't say that. So that the cartel picks us up and drives us to court in person or what? We demand a meeting at the central bus terminal - there are enough people who are not all bad. With a delay of 20 minutes, the policeman from the previous day appears including another man - both in civilian. We are getting greeted with "Corona-Fist" and are asked to follow them to a place more quite by the river to discuss "everything". That's not the intention of meeting at a public place, but OK. We follow them across the street into the park. Gerriet already suspected that the video was just a pretext and put in 2 rations of cash as a precaution. 40 dollars in the jacket and if it is not enough another 100 in the sock. Just in case they are asking for a donation.

They explain to us that they want to help us by strongly advising us to make a settlement in court. They emphasized that without a settlement, everything will be very complicated for us. The trial would drag on for weeks, we would have to come back to court and would not get our things back until the end of the trial. And the thieves will be free after the settlement? NO, that has nothing to do with it. They can still be jailed.. Oh, that's a good solution. Well then thanks for the advise. In the meantime, a third unknown person joined. Our question of who it is was only briefly answered with "also a colleague". With so much willingness to help, we are happy to keep quiet about this meeting and to confirm in court that we have made this decision completely uninfluenced!


At court We take a taxi with Viola and Nico to the court. Where shortly afterwards the three gentlemen from the park also drive up. Accompanied by a young woman unknown to us. We briefly consider whether we know her from the prosecutor's office. She enters the building with us, but waits in front of the courtroom. After us, the thieves and a prosecutor also arrive. The judge and the criminal defense lawyer are not present in person, but participate via zoom. One after the other, both the policeman and the prosecutor read out the charges and statements. Nico has to translate everything in detail so that Gerriet can confirm that he understands everything. The prosecutor, a little woman in an extravagant outfit and a bizarre facial visor, looks like a little calf biter to us. She gives the impression that she is very interested in putting the thieves behind bars. She speaks quickly and decisively, always looks directly at the perpetrators. The case opened with the explanation that it is special because foreigners are affected and it is already present on social media. tictoc, and god knows where else.....

The thieves now announce through their criminal defense lawyer that they themselves became victims of criminals. They were threatened by two other men with knives and forced to steal our backpack... Yes, of course that makes totally sense as the escape car certainly belongs to them. The defender also states that they are two righteous men. They are traders from Quito, who do not need to steal. One even has a Porsche! Oh, yes then…. Nevermind. We come to the point where the prosecutor demands a prison sentence of up to two years. At the same time, we will then be informed about the official, legally valid regulation, the settlement against compensation payment. The proposed amount is €300, although we can also demand more. However, the accused are then free. Do you think the police made a mistake? Or could that perhaps be exactly the trick? Meanwhile, the criminal defense lawyer explains in his final playdoyer that nothing bad happened. The backpack, including its contents, is there, it is not a drug offence or even a violent crime. A comparison over 300 dollars is a great thing. We are really so angry and would like to jump up and shout "Objection your honor". But contrary to the victims in the film, we opt for the variant with the comparison. But only after Nico said clearly again on our behalf that we are not interested in money but in justice. But since we are traveling and finally want to have our things back, we agree. The desperate wife, who arrived together with the police officers, almost falls to her knees with happiness that her righteous husband does not have to go to Ecuadorian prison unjustifiably and can instead jet around in his Porsche again. And then she counted $300, which she now hands over Gerriet. The thieves still have to make an official apology, which they do in a short barely audible "Disculpe". Then suddenly everything goes very fast. Zack, boom negotiation ended. The prosecutor closes the files. She comes over cheerfully to us. She asks Nico if he works as an official translator. When it turns out that he is also traveling, she gets very excited: "Oh how interesting. How do you like it so far? And where are we going next? Oh- Whow in the Amazon? Where exactly?" She really wants to go there and is looking for travel advice. „Let's exchange numbers!" The thieves still present. We definitely feel like being in the wrong movie. Suddenly, there is a chat in the entire courtroom. The police are in a really good mood and are having fun, the wife is no longer crying. Only we can't really enjoy it as we are still waiting to finally take the backpack back, which is lying as evidence in front of us.

Nada, it is not still not that easy.


At the police station again

We only get the backpack at the police station. There we also meet the two thieves again, including the second wife now. The ladies provide snacks for the poor men while they have a little chat with the police. Nico can understand everything. It's about the exact model of the Porsche and the further plans of the day. Next, going out to eat is on the program! In Sanni's head, the chorus of a well-known etching song plays in Permanent loop "Always in the middle of the joy..." ! But we all refrain from any comment. Ultimately, it's all about finally getting out of here. And then the time has actually come, Gerriet gets his backpack. He has to confirm once again that all things are back. But they are not! Yes guys, we're really sorry. The story continues for a little bit... Suddenly the Apple Pencil that was still there yesterday is missing. Oops, no matter how cheerful the police officers became visibly nervous for a short period of time. One then disappears into the courtyard of the district and returns at some point with a pen. Overall, it must be said that the police seem very satisfied and exuberant after the trial is over. A "you come out of prison free card" probably also costs more than 300 US dollars in Equador. You might think they made a really good deal. But at least we have our things back and can make a nice day of the compensation. Now we can finally leave and turn Baños' backs with joy a day later. Of course, the story keeps us busy for a while. A day later Sanni realizes that her cell phone was unnoticed and unintentionally filming the meeting with the 3 police officers in the park! Through the front pocket of her jacket! First-hand corruption evidence, so to speak, since everything can also be understood, at least if you speak Spanish! The second secret video was created on Gerriet's action cam, while the police unpack the items from the backpack. However, the story echoes the longest with poor Nico. He receives regularly WhatsApp messages from the prosecutor in the following weeks. She is still looking for tips and would love to have some nice photos. Heart emojis included!

And now this story ends. If we hadn't been there ourselves, we probably wouldn't believe it. From now on, the backpack will only be on our laps!


*The English version of this blog is supported by automated translation*

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