Former president Rafael Correa and an Ecuadorian journalist have been ordered to appear in a Belgian court August 8 as a result of an incident outside of Correa’s home July 8 in which the former president said he was threatened.
Ramiro Cueva, a reporter and commentator for the television station EcoTel TV, claims he was beaten by Correa and Correa’s Spanish body guards and required treatment at a local hospital.
The incident occurred on the sidewalk outside of Correa’s townhouse in Leuven, just east of Brussels, when Cueva was filming Correa with his cell phone. According to Correa, Cueva shouted insults and made motions as if he was reaching for a gun. “He didn’t shoot me because I was with my daughter,” Correa said.
Cueva claims that it was Correa who shouted the first insult, calling him a “soplapito” — a sexual slur —and “corrupt reporter.” Cueva responded that Correa should return “the money he stole from Ecuador.”
On social media accounts, Correa called Cueva a “journalist stalker.”
Following the verbal exchange, Correa called his body guards who, according to both Correa and Cueva, subdued the reporter, hitting him several times. His injuries included cuts and bruises, police said. In addition to the blows from the body guards, Cueva claims that Correa hit him several times while he held by the body guards.
According to Cueva and police officers who took statements from Cueva and Correa, Cueva was not carrying a gun, an offense punishable in Belgium by four years in prison.
Cueva says he has a right, as a journalist, to report on Correa. “Under the laws of the European Union, he is a public figure still involved in the politics of his home country,” Cueva says. “He is also a fair subject for journalistic inquiry since he is a fugitive from justice in Ecuador.”
Cueva’s Belgian attorney said that the physical assault on his client will be the most serious charge considered at the August 8 hearing. “He (Ceuva) has the right as a journalist to do his job,” the attorney said. “Correa’s men do not have the right to beat up an innocent person.”