For once, the opposition and the ruling party have aligned on the same side with regard to corruption. It has been to put a damper on the proposed law of extinction of the domain that the Prosecutor presented on Wednesday before the Legislative Commission of Justice.
The representatives of one side and the other not only agreed to question the unconstitutionality of the text, but pointed out the same points. There are three aspects that, at first, clash with the Ecuadorian legal system and that will complicate the approval process. That is where Marcela Aguiñaga, PAIS Assemblymember, meets with Lourdes Cuesta, from CREO, and Luis Fernando Torres, from the Partido Social Cristiano.
1.According to the Prosecutor’s Office’s proposal, the owner of the criminal action would participate in the preliminary investigation and then in a civil trial where it would be resolved if the domain over the assets that a person has to extinguish so that they return to the State should be extinguished. This leads to a kind of new mixed procedure, between the criminal and the civil, which does not exist in the current regulations, as the lawyer and legislator Torres recalls. Aguiñaga, who chairs the legislative committee before which the project was presented, questions that the Office of the Prosecutor exceeds: “A civil procedure
is suggested in which the prosecutor participates, even though those are not his constitutional competencies,” said PAIS Assemblywoman.
Presumption of innocence
- “The most serious thing is that the grounds for termination of title are also included if a person has been dismissed or his case has been closed. In that case, the persecution of their property also proceeds, “explains Lourdes Cuesta. “That breaks the presumption of innocence, the right to defense and due process,” because, the CREO legislator adds, “the fate of a person’s assets must be the same as that of the accused.” Aguiñaga and Torres also emphatically question that point. “It is interesting the law, but that there is to think it and to analyze it with professionalism according to the right to the defense”, values the Social Cristiano legislator.
Persecution of goods
- How far can the seizure of goods go and who is another one of the irritants of the text presented. The right to property from which a person can be dispossessed, for the benefit of the State, when it comes to assets obtained by an illegal activity, includes third parties indirectly involved or even the person who lends a property to commit the crime, Torres explains. And Cuesta, his colleague in the Justice Commission, adds that the precautionary seizure can be sold by the authority that takes charge. Therefore, it is now in doubt that the proposed text can pass the procedure in the Assembly and be qualified. This time, doubts about a norm do not get bogged down in a political bias. “If the Carmelite Nuns had proposed it, I would see the same objections,” Cuesta joked.
Newspaper EXPRESO asked the Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday some details about the proposal for the domain extinction law. There is still no answer to these questions. Is it impossible to recover assets without a domain extinction law? To which countries will they request the freezing of bank accounts in case of approval of the proposed law? To Switzerland? To Panama? Will a prior conviction be necessary to begin the process of extinction of the domain over illicit fortunes, according to the Prosecutor’s Office? (I)