The justice of Ecuador confirmed on Monday, in the last instance, the sentence to eight years in prison against former president Rafael Correa (2007-2017) for corruption, which means his political death just when he aspires to participate in the February elections.
A court of the Supreme National Court of Justice (CNJ) « by majority vote (…) rejects the cassation appeals filed by the appellants, and ratifies the bribery sentence » issued in April against Correa and a dozen former collaborators, indicated the Prosecutor’s Office through its Twitter account.
The ex-president, who has lived in Belgium since 2017 and was tried in absentia as allowed by law, said on the same social network: « They finally succeeded. In record time they issued a ‘final’ sentence to disqualify me as a candidate. »
« They do not understand that the only thing they are doing is increasing popular support. I will be fine. Give all your solidarity to those persecuted there. Remember: the only thing they condemn us to is to win, » he added.
The sentence, upheld in July, was ultimately upheld in a cassation raised by Correa, who is running for the vice presidency from a left-wing coalition.
Once the sentence is executed, after a request for clarification that can still file its defense and that may take several days but not change the substance of the decision, the ex-governor will be disqualified for life from popular elections upon being sentenced for bribery, as established by the Constitution for this and other types of crimes.
– Candidacy « closed » –
The CNJ established that Correa and several of his former collaborators received bribes in exchange for contracts with various companies, among which at the time the Brazilian Odebrecht was mentioned, although the Prosecutor’s Office abstained from investigating the construction company.
The 57-year-old former president, who maintains his innocence, was linked to the case for $ 6,000 that entered his bank account and which he alleges was from a loan from a fund of his party.
The penalties for embezzlement, bribery, concussion and illicit enrichment are imprescriptible in Ecuador.
« It is quite difficult » at the electoral level, constitutionalist Rafael Oyarte told ., pointing out that Correa’s « is a difficult » viable candidacy.
He added that any candidacy is also « forbidden » to Correa for other causes established in the Magna Carta and in which he incurs for having been elected president on two occasions.
President Lenín Moreno, his former ally and successor, also promoted reforms to prohibit reelection more than once, which for Correa’s detractors – who had promoted indefinite reelection – even makes it impossible for him to aspire to other positions.
– Application on hold –
Regarding Correa, who says that he faces thirty trials in Ecuador, another prison order weighs to be processed for the kidnapping in Colombia of an Ecuadorian opponent in 2012, a crime for which he cannot be tried in absentia.
He is considered a political persecuted by Moreno, his former vice president between 2007 and 2013.
Both maintain a tough power struggle that, after Moreno’s possession three years ago, led Correa to separate from the socialist Alianza País movement, in government for more than a decade.
Being the main opponent of Moreno and being in Belgium, where his wife is from, the former socialist ruler was presented as a candidate for the vice-presidency for the February elections.
The call for the general elections in February is scheduled for September 17 and the next day the registration stage for candidates will open.
If his candidacy is finally validated and the conviction is not yet executed, Correa would enjoy immunity and could, in theory, return to his country for the elections.
But the National Electoral Council (CNE) suspended his candidacy for the vice presidency because Correa did not accept it a week ago in person before the body, as the regulations indicate, but telematically.
The vice president of the CNE, Enrique Pita, then told . that this still does not exclude Correa from the elections because there is still no impediment for his party to register his candidacy, although later the entity will have to « check if the solemnities have been complied with. « so you can be a candidate.
sp-pld / lda