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LATIN AMERICA | 14-03-2023 14:18

Ecuador questions Argentina over ex-minister's escape from embassy

Ecuador's government summons Argentina's ambassador in Quito to respond to "inconsistencies" in information provided about the alleged escape from its embassy of a ex-government minister convicted of corruption.

The Ecuadorean government on Tuesday summoned Argentina's ambassador in Quito to respond to "inconsistencies" in information provided about the escape of a former minister convicted of corruption who had been a refugee in its embassy for more than two years.

"In view of some inconsistencies in the information," the government asked for "confirmation of new data" on the escape of "fugitive" María de los Ángeles Duarte, Ecuador's Foreign Ministry said in a bulletin.

Ambassador Gabriel Fuks, was summoned this morning "to respond to some consultations made by the Ecuadorean state regarding details" of the escape on Monday by the former official, who served in former president Rafael Correa's 2007-2017 government, the ministry added.

Argentina's Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero told his counterpart Juan Carlos Holguín on Monday that Duarte "escaped" from the embassy "without the knowledge of the staff," without going into further details.

Duarte has been staying at the diplomatic residence with her young son, whose father is Argentine, since August 2020. She sought refuge after receiving an eight-year prison sentence for corruption.

The former official was convicted along with former president Correa – who now lives in exile in Belgium – and several other former government officials of being part of a criminal structure that demanded bribes of nearly US$7.6 million from companies in exchange for the awarding state contracts, according to the prosecutor's office.

Last December, Ecuador denied Duarte the chance to leave the country for Argentina, which has granted her asylum.

Some international media claim that Duarte is now in Venezuela. AFP consulted official government sources in Caracas without obtaining a reply.

Correa and former collaborators reject the court rulings and consider them to be political persecution.

 

–– TIMES/AFP

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