On April 7, the National Court of Justice of Ecuador sentenced former president Rafael Correa to eight years in prison on bribery and corruption charges. Following the verdict, Correa has been barred from electoral politics for 25 years.
The court convicted Correa, former vice president Jorge Glas and 18 other former ministers and government officials on charges of accepting approximately 8 million USD in bribes from private companies. These bribes were allegedly in exchange for public contracts and using the funds for the electoral campaigns of their party, the PAIS Alliance, between 2012 and 2016.
Correa rejected the charges and denounced the sentence as a form of political persecution intended to prevent him and his allies from running in the presidential elections scheduled for next year. “This was what they were looking for: manipulating justice to achieve what they could never get at the polls,” said Correa in a tweet.
Correa, who is currently residing in Brussels, Belgium, with his family, has two opportunities to appeal the conviction.
Correa has strong popular support in Ecuador and has been a victim of political persecution under the presidency of current neoliberal president Lenín Moreno. In July, 2018, the court had ordered a preventive detention against Correa, accusing him of being complicit in the failed kidnapping of right-wing opposition leader Fernando Balda. In August, 2019, preventive detention was ordered against him in this corruption case.
Several political leaders from across Latin America have condemned the judicial decision motivated by the right-wing and imperialist politics of Moreno and have expressed solidarity with the progressive leader.