Ecuador’s justice on Tuesday sentenced former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to eight years in prison and the withdrawal of his political rights for the crime of bribery, considering that he led a corruption structure with which his party was illegally financed in exchange for contracts with the state.
According to the court of the criminal court of the National Court of Justice in Quito, the illegal financing of the leftist Party Alianza País by entrepreneurs has been proven, and that was reported to a «higher hierarchical level», which included both Correa, and the former vice-president and close collaborator Jorge Glas, in prison for another case.
The opinion mentioned the existence, between 2012 and 2016, of a «corruption structure» in contracts with the companies that financed the leftist movement led by Correa, in exchange for public works awards.
For them, the bribes would have amounted to $7.5 million in cash, an amount that was reached through the crossing of invoices and, a portion, in cash.
Both Correa and Glas have been convicted as mediate authors of bribery in the same case, initiated this year after a journalistic investigation in 2019 pointed to irregularities in the award of contracts under the Correa Government (2007-2017) to a network of companies, including Brazil’s Odebrecht.
Most of the twenty defendants in the same case were declared direct authors or co-authors of the same, and in the latter section are the former Minister of Public Works, Maria de los Angeles Duarte and the former Legal Secretary of the Presidency, Alexis Mera, all with similar condemnation.
For former presidential worker Pamela Martínez, who was later appointed vice-president of the Constitutional Court, and her secretary Laura Terán, the only one considered complicit in the crime, a reduction in the penalty by 90 percent or more was issued, having acted as prosecution witnesses and cooperated with justice in clarifying the facts.
The opinion mentioned that other offences such as money laundering and money laundering are derived from the activities carried out by the structure, and that the State is the main victim of wrongdoing.
The experts will also be analyzed to determine the amount of the repair.
Defendants will have to pay for reparations
The former member also faces the payment of a fine for damages, in addition to a comprehensive repair that includes the placement of a plaque in the Building of the Presidency of the Republic apologising to the citizenry.
At previous hearings in early March, attorney general Diana Salazar accused the former member of giving the orders for the crime to be committed without direct participation: «Everything was organized from above,» she said.
And he considered it necessary to pay $1.13 billion financial compensation, the overall value of each of the contracts that were placed within this corruption plot.
However, the sentence could still be «ratified or not in second instance,» according to legal experts, who stated that it is not yet final and can be appealed by the convicted.
If convicted, the former president – who resides in Belgium and has more than a dozen open cases at various stages – would lose the option of running for the 2021 elections, in which he could serve as a candidate for vice-president or assembly, which would include the right to immunity.
Correa denounces «judicialization» of politics
Fugitive from justice for this and another case in which he is charged with the abduction of an opponent in Colombia in 2012, after knowing his conviction Correa today denounced Efe’s alleged «judicialization of politics» in his country.
«They are desperate to meet the times and disqualify me for the next election because they know that if I can return we win them the election, and widely,» Correa, who criticized the «urgency» of the criminal court’s ruling in the midst of the crisis over the coronavirus pandemic.
Former presidential legal secretary Alexis Mera, who announced that he will appeal the judicial opinion, criticized that it is «full of lies» and that «criminal judges have to obey orders.»
For his part, the political activist Fernando Balda, whose kidnapping case – which cannot be tried in the absence of the accused – keeps Correa on the run, called the former president a «political corpse.»
«Reduced to his hiding place in an attic, the fugitive from justice is now also a convict and hence a political corpse. He can’t be a candidate for anything,» he said in the nets.