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LATIN AMERICA | 08-09-2020 09:16

Ecuador upholds graft sentence for former president Rafael Correa

Ecuadorean court confirms former president's eight-year prison term for corruption, blocking his vice-presidency run in next year's elections and landing him a lifetime disqualification from future ballots.

An Ecuador court on Monday confirmed ex-president Rafael Correa's eight-year prison term for corruption, the attorney general said, blocking his vice-presidency run in next year's elections.

Correa, who has lived in Belgium since 2017 to evade the prison term, faces a lifetime disqualification from elections because Ecuador's constitution bars those convicted of graft.

The attorney general's office said the National Court's cassation court "by majority vote... rejects the appeals of cassation filed by the appellants, and ratifies the sentence for bribery" against Correa and a dozen former associates.

The sentence, which was delivered in April and confirmed in July, was ratified Monday in a cassation, or request to overturn a ruling, proposed by Correa.

"They finally did it. In record time, they have issued a 'final' sentence to disqualify me as a candidate," he tweeted in response to the ruling.

"They don't understand that all they do is increase popular support. I'll be fine. Give all the solidarity to the persecuted there. Remember: the only thing they condemn us to is to win," he added.

His lawyers can still make a request for clarification.

The National Court of Justice established that Correa and several of his former associates received bribes in exchange for contracts with various companies, among which the Brazilian company Odebrecht was initially mentioned, although the prosecutor's office refrained from investigating the construction company.

Correa, who served as president from 2007-2017, insists he's the victim of political persecution and in August announced plans to run in 2021's elections. 

He was linked to the case by US$6,000 that was deposited in his bank account that he claims was a loan from one of his party's funds.

As well as his conviction, Correa is also wanted for the alleged kidnapping of an opposition lawmaker in 2012 but cannot be tried in absentia on that charge.

– TIMES/AFP

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