Ecuador’s Ex-President Rafael Correa Requests Asylum in Belgium
Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa requested asylum in Belgium in a bid to avoid extradition to Ecuador. News of Correa’s asylum request, which sources claim occurred in June, has arisen after Ecuador’s top court ordered Correa to stand trial regarding his alleged role in a botched kidnapping attempt of an opposition lawmaker in 2012.
Correa was charged by Ecuadorian prosecutors in September with orchestrating the kidnapping of Fernando Balda in Bogotá, Colombia. Balda had fled from Ecuador to Bogotá in an attempting to escape what he considered political persecution by Correa.
A supreme court justice declared the accusations against Correa and his top intelligence chief held enough merit for a trial to take place. After telling judges that Correa ordered the kidnapping, his intelligence chief entered the Witness Protection Program.
Judge Daniel Camacho declared Correa a fugitive, suspending the trial from the beginning until Correa surrenders or is apprehended. Correa has been living in Belgium since leaving office last year.
In June, Ecuadorian officials requested an Interpol red notice for Correa requesting he be extradited from Belgium. Interpol rejected Ecuador's request attributing a lack of evidence.
Correa has long denied the charges, which he considers to be a political witch hunt run by his chosen successor who has become one of his main critics, President Lenin Moreno.
Late Wednesday, Correa called the charges a “farce” but said he was more worried about Ecuador’s future than his legal troubles.
“We expected something like this because for weeks we’ve been witnesses to the uncontrolled political pressure being applied to the judge,” Caupolican Ochoa, Correa’s attorney, said outside the court.
On Thursday, Correa accused the Moreno’s government of engaging in “Political Persecution.” Corea has argued he would not be given a fair trial if he were to return to Ecuador.
Balda said he took no pleasure in the legal victory because “we can’t celebrate the fact that these criminal acts were ordered by a president.”
Correa governed Ecuador from 2007 to 2017. During this time he gained supporters by promoting health and social programs attempting to reduce inequality in the country.
Correa’s supporters credit him with introducing political and economic stability in Ecuador. Despite his advances in creating social programs, Correa often feuded with the media, business community, indigenous groups, and environmentalists due to his forcing measures that consolidated executive power. Since leaving office, his record has faced increasing scrutiny.
Now, several top aides, including his former Vice President Jorge Glas, have either been jailed or are under investigation for corruption. If found guilty, Correa will face up to 12 years in jail.