The ex-president Rafael Correa has been definitively removed from politics ahead of the 2021 elections, after the Justice of his country dismissed his appeal to annul a sentence of eight years in prison and equal time of political disqualification for bribery in the case “Bribes 2012-2016”.
A court of Cassation of the National Court of Justice (CNJ) considered that there was no irregularity in the due process against Correa and the other fifteen sentenced in the case, so that the ruling cannot be annulled.
“This Court, based on articles 657 numerals 5 and 6 of the Comprehensive Criminal Code (COIP) declares the cassation appeals inadmissible,” the Court ruled.
With the final judgment, The former president is unable to participate in the elections on February 7, in which he aspired to the Vice Presidency at the hands of Andrés Arauz, a young man from the ranks of his Citizen Revolution movement.
The “Bribes” case is about a corruption network through which “undue contributions” were received in the Carondelet presidential palace, between 2012 and 2016, for the irregular financing of the official Alianza País movement, in exchange for the awarding of millionaire State contracts to companies, including Odebrecht.
Correa, who alleges being the victim of political persecution by his former ally and current president Lenín Moreno, was convicted in the first (April) and second instances (July) for the crime of bribery as a mediator.
A sentence that was pending of the cassation so that it was firm and unappealable, at least in Ecuador, because the correísmo has announced that it will resort to international organizations.
Regarding the authorship and participation of those involved, the court agreed with the Court of First Instance that “Correa and (former vice president) Jorge Glas are considered as instigators”, that is, “authors under the mode of instigation.”
“As the leader of Alianza País, with his select group related to the Government, the collection of securities instigated and advised Pamela Martínez (another defendant) to set up the distribution of bribes and the illicit system in an office parallel to the Presidency of the Republic, “the opinion added today, according to a CNJ statement.
The court considered that Correa’s role, as well as that of his former vice president, who is serving six years in prison for another case, were decisive for the plot.
However, the ruling was not unanimous, as Judge Milton Ávila considered that the penalties for perpetrators and accomplices should have been lower based on Article 286 of the COIP, according to a Communication from the Court.
For the Attorney General of the State, Diana Salazar, architect of the process, the final judgment shows that “Ecuador has emerged as the winner” and that “Justice is being inaugurated in this country.”
Salazar wanted to leave “a clear message: that it does not matter (if it is) from the highest power structures, the law is for everyone. There is no one on the law.”
The court of cassation is the last instance in Ecuador, so the verdict of this Monday completely overturns Correa’s electoral future in the short term, since after this legal procedure the case is finalized.
After this ruling, Correa will not be able to participate in the political life of his country for the next 8 years.
“They finally succeeded. In record time they draw a” final “sentence to disqualify me as a candidate. They do not understand that all they do is increase popular support,” wrote the former head of state from Belgium, where he has resided since 2017.
He was referring to the fact that other cassation processes can last months and even years, but that in his case the case has been expedited to block his electoral registration before September 17.
Correa and his co-religionists accuse the Ecuadorian Justice of alleged “politicization” and to act under the influence of the government led by Moreno, who was its vice president and became one of its staunch critics.
An argument similar to the one made by Glas’s lawyer, Harrison Salcedo, who in statements to Efe at the end of the hearing considered that the sentence was “illegal” and its objective: “To pursue from all times, to ban the political candidacy of Rafael Correa ( in a) unheard of time. “
While the hearing was being held, a hundred protesters gathered in front of the judicial complex, half of them in favor of the ex-president and the other half against.
“Correa, the man who robbed the country,” said one of the banners of the anti-government side, while they described the judges as “thugs”, the press as “corrupt”, and vindicated their ten years of government (2007 -2017) in which they say they saw “rebuilding the country.”