QUITO – The Ecuadorian Court of Appeals rejected on Monday the motion presented on behalf of former president Rafael Correa to annul his eight-year prison sentence, along with an equal period of exclusion from all political activities, for his conviction on bribery charges in the “Sobornos 2012-2016” case.
The National Court of Justice (CNJ) ruled that no irregularities were present in the case against Correa and the other 15 defendants found guilty, and thus annulling their sentences was “inadmissible.”
The “Sobornos” (Bribery) case concerns a corruption network via which most the defendants made “improper contributions” at the Carondelet presidential palace to irregularly finance the governing Alianza Pais political movement in exchange for receiving state contracts for their companies, including Brazil’s Odebrecht construction firm, worth millions of dollars.
“Articles 285, 287, 290 of the Comprehensive Penal Code, and 280 make inadmissible (accepting the motion),” the justices ruled on Monday, according to a statement issued by the CNJ Communications Department.
The court further stated that “the right to a defense of the defendants has not been harmed,” and thus the motion to overturn their sentences was denied.
The court further stated that “Rafael Correa and (former Vice President) Jorge Glas are considered to be the instigators” of the bribery scheme, that is to say “the authors” of the network’s activities.
The judges added that “As leader of Alianza Pais … (Correa) instigated and advised Pamela M. to effect the distribution of the bribes and the illicit scheme in an office parallel to the President’s Office.”
The justices were referring to the framework established by the president and his office to gather resources to illegally finance his political party in exchange for state contracts for the donors’ firms.
The ruling means that the sentences handed down in April and July against the defendants will remain in force, and thus Correa – who resides in Belgium – will not be able to run for president again in the 2021 election, as he had been hoping.
Correa, who has two outstanding arrest orders against him in Ecuador, tried to register remotely to run for vice president in the election last week on the ticket of presidential candidate Andres Arauz, who must now seek out another VP partner.
On his Twitter account, Correa said that the judicial ruling was handed down “in record time.”
“Finally, they achieved it. In record time, they issued a ‘definitive’ ruling to invalidate me as a candidate. They don’t understand that the only thing they’ve done is increase (my) popular support” in the Revolucion Ciudadana movement, which he heads, he wrote.
As the court hearing was under way, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside the judicial complex, about half of them supporting Correa and the other half against him, EFE determined.