One year and six months after he left power, former President Rafael Correa receives his first call to trial by the Ecuadorian justice system.
JudgeDaniella Camacho dictated the afternoon of this Wednesday the appeal for atrial against the leader of the Correismo for the crime of plagiarism committedagainst the activist Fernando Balda, in Colombia in 2012. Twenty elements ofconviction would reveal that Correa was in the high of the chain of commandthat would have been structured to plan the illicit.
The call to trial by Camacho, who took three hours to read his resolution, also reaches the former Secretary of Intelligence, Pablo Romero, and the intelligence ex agents Raúl Chicaiza and Jéssica Falcón. The four defendants passed to the trial stage as authors.
Thehearing, which started at 3:00 p.m., had a half-hour break around 4:45. Then,the magistrate read her arguments and gave her verdict of trial call around18:25.
Jueza Daniella Camacho llama a juicio a Rafael Correa, Pablo Romero, Raúl Chicaiza y Jessica Falcón por el delito de plagio (secuestro) de Fernando Balda. Pese a ello la jueza suspendió la etapa de juicio para Correa y Romero por estar prófugos. @eluniversocom pic.twitter.com/Utrbqx8jY5— Santiago Molina (@santiagomolinao) 7 de noviembre de 2018
The judge of the case decided that this process should continue only for the crime of plagiarism and did not include the illicit association requested by the Office of the Prosecutor. From his perspective: the requirements of that criminal type were not met. The surrogate attorney general, Ruth Palacios, at the same hearing announced that she will appeal that decision and insist that an illicit association exists.
Because Correa and Romero are fugitives from justice, since the first one is in Belgium and the second one in Spain, Camacho ordered that for both the trial stage be suspended until they are captured or voluntarily surrendered. The two were re-sentenced to preventive detention, they were issued a prohibition to dispose of assets and the retention of accounts that they maintain in the national financial system in an amount equivalent to the value of the fine and the integral reparation of the victim.
Again Judge Camacho ordered the Judicial Police and Interpol to be requested to locate and capture the former president and his intelligence secretary.
Chicaiza and Falcón will remain in the same rehabilitation centers they were in, while they await the date for the trial hearing in which they will enforce the effective cooperation delivered. Camacho denied them the possibility of a house arrest, because the houses of the ex-agents did not provide the necessary security.
On July 3, Judge Camacho had ordered the preventive detention for former President of the Republic Rafael Correa for the accusation made against him by the Prosecutor for this same case of kidnapping.
Experts made in the case point out that there are elements that allow us to infer that the actions of Chicaiza and Falcón did not constitute isolated acts carried out by their individual will, but that they come from the execution of direct orders within a structured chain of command with various levels of structure and planning.
Caupolican Ochoa, Correa’s lawyer, called Camacho’s decision a “long, tedious, messy and absolutely empirical and artisanal resolution” that the only thing he would have done is recapitulate the elements of conviction without being balanced in the assessment. He said he was not surprised by the resolution, because the case has been political.
“We are going to talk to him (Rafael Correa) and he will be the one to make the decision to return to Ecuador, but we have to make it clear that this country cannot stand, nor tolerate a former president in prison for two weeks with fire, they are causing a tremendously complex situation, “said Ochoa.
The victim of the case, Fernando Balda, explained that although justice has been done in calling Correa to trial, Ecuador cannot celebrate the fact that the country judicially verified that these “criminal acts” were ordered by a President of the Republic.
His lawyer, Felipe Rodríguez, said he was waiting for the Comptroller to act to determine how much public money was used to hire Balda’s kidnappers, to pay for airline tickets for the agents and kidnappers … and point out the existence of signs of criminal responsibility that give way to a case of embezzlement that must be investigated by the Office of the Prosecutor.
On theoutside of the CNJ, a group of sympathizers of the former president wasconcentrated. The building had police custody. This case also touched theNational Assembly, after the legislator Sofía Espín visited Falcón at the endof September in jail. The CNJ asked the Parliament to withdraw the immunity tobe able to investigate it for alleged influence peddling. (I)