Ecuador court orders arrest of Brussels-based ex-president Correa

Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa talks to Reuters, in Quito January 30, 2018. — Reuters pic
Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa talks to Reuters, in Quito January 30, 2018. — Reuters pic

QUITO, July 4 —

LONDON, July 4 — An Ecuadoran court yesterday ordered the arrest of Brussels-based former president Rafael Correa over alleged links to the kidnapping of an opponent in Colombia.

The National Court of Justice said Judge Daniella Camacho “resolves to impose preventive detention” against Correa and has alerted Interpol.

Correa, president from 2007-2017, was one of the feistiest characters in Latin American politics. He now lives in his wife’s native Belgium, but is under investigation at home for involvement in the kidnapping of former lawmaker Fernando Balda in 2012.

Correa questioned the motivation for the case, after he and his former ally, the current President Lenin Moreno, struggled for control of their deeply divided leftist ruling Country Alliance party.

Balda considered himself a persecuted politician under Correa’s government.

Last month, a judge ordered Correa to appear in court every two weeks to assist the investigation.

The first appearance was ordered for Monday, when Correa presented himself to the Ecuadoran consulate in Brussels to “comply with the precautionary measure imposed by the illegal and illegitimate link to the so-called Balda Case”, he said on Twitter.

Three police intelligence agents have already been ordered arrested in the case, in addition to an ex-police commander and a former top intelligence official, who was detained last month in Spain.

Correa has said on Twitter that he had no knowledge of the crime.

“I don’t know what they are linking me with, or to whom,” he said.

“Maybe they can get some false testimony. But they’ll never prove anything, because there is nothing.”

In February Ecuadorans voted to bar Correa from being able to make a comeback in 2021 by backing a referendum question on reimposing presidential term limits.

The results were a win for Moreno in his struggle with Correa, who during his term launched vigorous reforms, boosted social spending, curbed oil firms’ profits and suspended some debt payments that he considered illegitimate.

Since his election last year, Moreno has steadily dismantled Correa’s leftist legacy, making overtures to the business community and the political right.

Correa has suggested that he could seek asylum in Belgium, saying “they will seek to humiliate us and make us have a hard time, but such a monstrosity will NEVER prosper in a State of Law like Belgium.” — AFP