QUITO – The attorney of former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa said the National Court of Justice agreed to process his petition for recusal of the court’s judges, who opened a bribery trial against the former leader Monday in Quito.
The court document said the recusal demand presented by attorney Fausto Jarrin is clear and precise.
“The National Court has just agreed to process my (petition for) recusal. They should have done so before the hearing was set up, now they will be forced to suspend it,” Jarrin said on social media with an attached copy of the notification.
“It is also proper and meets the legal requirements laid down in articles 27, 142 and 143 of the General Organic Code of Processes, so it is allowed for special processing,” the document read.
The legal defense of the former leader, who governed Ecuador between 2007 and 2017, resorted to the application for recusal, on the basis that judges appointed for the trial were not competent and criticized alleged irregularities in both the manner and the time in which the announcement was made.
The panel is made up of judges Ivan Leon, Ivan Saquicela and Marco Rodriguez, who listened to the opening arguments of the parties involved before proceeding to hear the presentation of testimonies in the afternoon.
The criminal court of the National Court of Justice began Monday the trial of 21 people accused of alleged bribery, including the former president.
The trial concerns the so-called “Sobornos” (Bribes) case, which also involves former vice president Jorge Glas, serving a prison sentence for illicit association in another bribery case related to the Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht.
The panel of judges began analyzing from Monday whether there was illegal funding to the ruling political party during Correa’s tenure.
During a recess, Jarrin had told the media he believed the court should suspend the hearing until his request was resolved.
Asked if the appeal was a strategy to delay the trial, the lawyer said he would exercise “all rights” at his disposal, including “for example questioning the impartiality of a court.”
He said some of the legal notebooks were in the hands of another court, which according to him, raises doubts.
“This way neither the court nor its competence can be trusted,” Jarrin said.
Ecuador’s Attorney General Diana Salazar argued in her opening statement that “between 2012 and 2016, 11 public officials and a dozen legal representatives, shareholders, proxies or linked to foreign companies contracted by the state, adapted their conduct to those of perpetrators and accomplices in the crime of bribery.”
If the trial concludes with a final ruling before November, Correa will not be able to run for the 2021 presidential election.
Others charged in the case are former Water Secretary Walter Solis and former Administration Secretary Vinicio Alvarado, as well as ex-ministerial advisor Yamil Massuh.