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Another top Correa official flees the country ahead of arrest order; Ricardo Patiño faces charge of ‘instigation of violence’

Former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño arrived in Mexico City Thursday morning, hours before a judge ordered his imprisonment pending an investigation into charges that he attempted to incite violence during speech in Latacunga.

Ricado Patiño

Patiño, who headed Ecuador’s foreign ministry from 2010 to 2016, crossed the Peruvian border by car before catching a flight to Mexico City, according to authorities.

In a short video sent via social media,  Patiño said he had no alternative but to leave Ecuador given the “breakdown” in the country’s legal system. “This is clearly an act of political persecution against me,” he said, adding that he did not have a return ticket.

The charges against Patiño stem from an October speech to followers of former president Rafael Correa in which Patiño said that the Correistas must use more aggressive tactics in opposing the policies of President Lenin Moreno. He called on the crowd to block roads and occupy public buildings.

The order for Patiño’s “preventive detention” reversed an earlier court ruling that threw out the request. On Saturday, Latacunga Judge Beatriz Benítez called the request “unwarranted.”

The federal prosecutor’s office appealed and yesterday, following Patiño’s departure, Criminal Court Judge Flavio Palomo approved the arrest warrant.

Prosecutors have asked Interpol, the international police network, to issue a warrant for Patiño’s arrest. Previous requests for warrants, including one for Correa, have been denied by Interpol.