Father of missing Córdoba kids maintains innocence as trial closes

José Bretón denies murdering his children in revenge against estranged wife Ruth Ortiz

José Bretón giving his final statement in court on Monday.
José Bretón giving his final statement in court on Monday. Salas (EFE)

The prosecution never believed the version offered by José Bretón, the main suspect in the disappearance of his two small children on October 8, 2011. Although he claims that he lost them in a park, both the attorney and the private prosecution say that he murdered them as revenge against his wife, Ruth Ortiz, who had asked him for a divorce.

"He killed Ruth and José out of hatred for his wife, because he could not go on controlling her," said the prosecutor, María Ángeles Rojas, in her final statements at the close of the trial against Bretón. Rojas is asking for a 40-year prison sentence against him for killing his six- and two-year-old children with sleeping pills, then getting rid of their bodies in a bonfire that he made at his parents' rural estate outside of Córdoba. Investigators found indications that the bonfire had been turned into an oven to increase the temperature and eliminate all remains of what was burnt there. However, teeth and bone remains were found that forensic experts assert belonged to humans aged around two and six.

Meanwhile, Bretón's defense sowed doubts about the evidence, and suggested that his client may have possibly drugged his children but then handed them over to a mysterious individual on the highway, "because Bretón may have wanted to hurt his wife in this way, but I am sure that Bretón is not a murderer," said his lawyer José María Sánchez de Puerta.

At the end of the session, Bretón took the stand to issue a final statement. "I am completely innocent," he said. The accused asked the lawyer representing Ortiz in her private prosecution, Maria del Reposo Carrero, if she could be "100 percent sure that all of these accusations are true."

"I am clearly not as intelligent as has been said," Bretón continued, adding that "after 21 months I find it incredible that nobody knows where Ruth and José are."

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