Minister Romo says Sofía Espín’s visit to a witness against Correa could imply ‘criminal responsibility’
“Interior Minister María Paula Romo described as” very serious “the fact that Assemblywoman Sofía Espín (ex AP and now identified as correísta) has entered the Prison 4 in Quito to meet with Diana Falcón, a police officer processed in the case of the kidnapping to Fernando Balda and witness in the investigation against the ex-president Rafael Correa for that fact.
“It is very serious, this is a case in which the whole country is pending, a case in which according to the Prosecutor’s Office would be involved including the former President of the Republic, we are talking about a very sensitive crime and a person who collaborates with the justice as a protected witness, “said Romo on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.
Romo rejected that a high-ranking official like Espin has tried to” apparently modify the opinion of that witness.” “It is a serious case that could even bring criminal responsibility from my point of view as a lawyer,” she added.
Assemblywoman Espin, questioned about the Minister’s statement, summoned Romo to “show what she means by serious”. She said she went to Jail 4 because “I was worried about the situation of Mrs. (Falcon), for her safety, she is helpless, practically, they have made her blame, then I went to ask that.” Espin, ex-collaborator of Jorge Glas (who is serving sentence in Jail 4 and is defended by Correa), said she does not regret the visit to Falcon and that she is not afraid that the Prosecutor’s Office may open an investigation against her.
Romo said that “if the requirements were not met, the rules, for the issue of visits, there will be sanctions”, although he pointed out that this is a competence of another ministry. Espin says she followed all the legal processes to enter the jail where Falcón is detained.
“That the Minister shows me that I have pressed the lady,” she said. On the morning of September 25, Felipe Rodríguez, attorney for Fernando Balda, reported that Assemblywoman Espín and lawyer Yadira Cadena Cevallos, assistant to Caupolicán Ochoa, Rafael Correa’s lawyer, visited in the Jail 4 the agent Diana Falcón to promise her protection of the UN if she retracted her version about the kidnapping of Balda.
Diego Chimbo, attorney for agent Falcon, said his client told him that Espin offered her asylum in Belgium (where the former president resides) in exchange for saying she was pressured by prosecutor Paúl Pérez to involve Correa in the criminal proceedings.
“Diana Falcón and Raúl Chicaiza delivered the evidence they collected since 2013 … That is to say that at some point they had to give this process and they knew they were going to collaborate with the justice,” said the attorney for the prosecuted agents.
Agent Chicaiza has been contacted in Jail 4 by people close to Correa. “They go to visit the former vice president and they contact him and suggest that he changes this process and the most serious suggestion they make is to ask him to lie, that is to say that she recant.”
Assemblywoman Espín denied that she had pressured agent Falcón, saying on Wednesday morning that it was not true that she had offered protection from the UN On Tuesday afternoon, September 25, the State’s attorney general, Paúl Pérez, asked the National Court of Justice to issue a writ of appeal against Rafael Correa, as the author of the crimes of conspiracy and abduction of Balda the same legal action against Pablo Romero, former head of the National Intelligence Secretariat (Senain); and of the agents of Intelligence Falcón and Chicaiza; these last two are in the victim and witness protection program of the Office of the Prosecutor for their collaboration in the investigation.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, there are 28 evidences that implicate Correa in the kidnapping of Balda, perpetrated in 2012 in Bogotá, Colombia.
The Office of the Prosecutor requested that the precautionary measures (order of imprisonment) be ratified and that the sale of assets and the movement of accounts of the accused be prohibited.
Prosecutor Perez requested the call to trial after the judge of the National Court, Daniella Camacho, ratified the validity of the process and the legality of the action of the Office of the Prosecutor in the case, under the Organic Comprehensive Criminal Code (COIP).
Can Correa be tried for a crime executed in Colombia? Article 14 of said legal body specifies that the COIP may be applied for crimes perpetrated outside of Ecuador in five cases:
1. When the infraction has effects in Ecuador or in the places subject to its jurisdiction.
2. When the criminal offense is committed abroad, against one or several Ecuadorian persons and has not been tried in the country where it was committed.
3. When the criminal offense is committed by the public servants while performing their duties or official management.
4. When the criminal offense affects legal rights protected by international law, through international instruments ratified by Ecuador, provided that their trial has not begun in another jurisdiction.
5. When the infractions constitute serious violations of human rights, in accordance with the procedural rules established in this Code. In Colombia, the men who perpetrated the kidnapping were tried, but the intellectual authors and the intelligence agents of Ecuador who received the order to hire the captors were not investigated.
Article 162 of the COIP sanctions with 13 years of prison who perpetrates the kidnapping of a person for political, ideological, religious, etc. purposes. Balda was an opponent of the Correa regime. Likewise, the Ecuadorian Penal Code punishes those who commit an illegal association with jail terms of up to 5 years. (I)