Belgium grants asylum to former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa

On April 13, 2021, former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa speaks during an interview with AFP, in Mexico City's Coyoacan district.

Rafael Correa should be able to take refuge in his wife’s country of origin. Former Ecuadorian President, sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison He was granted refugee status in Belgium due to corruption in his country, he announced Friday, April 22, shortly after Quito submitted an extradition request.

Rafael Correa told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Belgium, where he has lived since the end of his mandate, ie since 2017, had granted him asylum, confirming information from the Spanish agency EFE. A certificate from the Belgian Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons, dated April 15, grants the former president (2007-2017) refugee status “within the meaning of the Geneva Convention” and the additional protocol”

For his part, the president of the Ecuadorian National Court of Justice, Ivan Saquicela, announced on Friday that he had signed the day before “the order initiating the process of extradition, as it is in accordance with the law, of Rafael Vicente Correa”† The next step is “that the necessary and indispensable measures are taken at diplomatic level so that the extradition can take place” from Belgium, he explained in an interview with the television channel Teleamazonas.

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Rafael Correa was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison in September 2020 for corruption, unexplained crimes such as embezzlement, extortion and illegal enrichment.

This conviction had shattered his hopes of returning to politics, as the Constitution forbade life in front of voters in corruption cases. The Justice Department believed that Mr Correa and some of his former associates were receiving bribes in exchange for contracts with various companies. Among the suspects was the Brazilian construction group Odebrecht, which has been the focus of numerous corruption trials in Latin America.

Read also Ecuador: conviction of ex-president Rafael Correa confirmed in cassation

The former president has always claimed his innocence and denounced a plot by his rival, his former vice president and successor to the presidency, Lenin Moreno. He had formally applied for asylum in Belgium at the end of 2018. “We have a tough sentence. There is the agreement with Belgium and the international agreements, plus the extradition law, which support our request in strict law. There is no value judgment here”said Saquicela.

Rafael Correa responded to this announcement on his Twitter account by saying of the head of the National Court of Justice that he “clown” and the “puppet” from the government. Mr Correa is also being prosecuted in Colombia for the short-lived kidnapping of an opponent in that country in 2012.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Rafael Correa’s mixed plate in Ecuador

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