Ecuador’s National Court of Justice (CNJ), on September 23, ordered the police authorities to “immediately locate and arrest” former president Rafael Correa and other former government officials and businessmen convicted in the bribes 2012-16 corruption case. The court also ordered the Ministry of Finance to suspend the payment of 4,200 USD per month allocated to Correa as lifetime pension to a former president. Additionally, the court ordered that the National Electoral Council (CNE) be notified of the loss of political rights by all those ministers sentenced in the case.
Correa, who is currently residing in Brussels, Belgium, through his Twitter account commented on the ruling. “With the farce of the bribery case, the corrupt judge, Leon, orders the suspension of lifetime pensions entitled to us. Something that was never done with neither (Abdalá) Bucaram nor (Jamil) Mahuad (former presidents). They (current president Lenín Moreno and his allies) unconstitutionally reformed the law on June 22, when the sentence was delivered on April 7. Everything planned with viciousness and dedication,” wrote Correa in a tweet.
The Brussels Times reported that a court in Ecuador had issued a request to the Belgian authorities to arrest Correa and deliver him to the Ecuadorian justice system.
Two week ago, on September 7, the court of cassation of the CNJ ratified the 8-year prison sentence and the 25-year political ban for Correa in the case issued by the first instance court on April 7, permanently barring him from contesting in the February 2021 general elections. In the absence of concrete evidence linking Correa to any acts of corruption in the case, the court of cassation resorted to sentencing Correa based on having “psychic and cognitive influence” and being able to “control others’ will.”
In August 2019, the Attorney General of Ecuador accused Correa’s former ministers and government officials of accepting bribes from private companies in exchange for public contracts between 2012 and 2016. The legal officer also accused Correa of leading the corruption scheme and using the funds to finance the electoral campaigns and other political events of his party, the Alianza Pais (AP) movement.
Correa, who was in office from 2007 to 2017 and still maintains a strong popular support in the country, has repeatedly rejected the charges pressed against him. He has denounced the case, the ruling and the electoral reforms as forms of political persecution by the ruling national government, intended to prevent him from running in the upcoming elections. Political activists and leaders from across the world have also denounced the lawfare campaign carried out by Moreno’s administration against the popular leader.