Court revokes former VP Glas’ habeas corpus; Secretly recorded video could have been a factor
A court in Santa Elena Province has withdrawn the habeas corpus granted former vice president Jorge Glas on April 9 and ordered him taken into custody and returned to prison. A three judge panel ruled that Manglaralto judge Javier Moscoso lacked the authority to release Glas from prison.
Glas was back at the Cotopaxi prison near Latacunga by 9 Friday night where will continue to serve concurrent prison terms at the Cotopaxi prison for 2017 convictions for illicit association, bribery and embezzlement.
Moscoso had ordered the release following testimony by doctors that Glas suffered a variety of physical ailments, including hypertension, gastritis, and spondylitis, and that his failing mental health made him a candidate for suicide.
Attorneys for the former vice president also claimed that the government was unable to guarantee his safety, citing recent riots in the prisons.
Prior to surrendering to police, Glas issued a video statement ackowledging the court’s decision and thanking his supporters. “I am going back to prison but I will be coming out again soon,” he said.
The three judges, Silvana Caicedo, Kléber Franco and Juan Camacho, ruled unanimously that Moscoso erred in granting the habeas corpus because Glas was neither a resident of Santa Elena Province or imprisoned there.
The speed of court’s decision came as surprise to both Glas’ attorneys as well as the government, who had not expected a ruling before next week. Government attorneys had appealed the habeas corpus three days ago.
Some political analysts believe that a secretly recorded 2014 video, released earlier this week, may have influenced the judges’ decision. In the video, Glas, then vice president, is seen asking Hydrocarbon Regulation and Control Agency chief José Luis Cortázar to suspend government rules and increase gasoline quotas at the Colombian border and to waive restrictions on the sale of mining explosives. In the tape, Glas says that President Rafael Correa is afraid of losing upcoming local elections in the Amazon region and needed Cortázar’s help.
Former president Rafael Correa tweeted that the video had been “altered and presented out of context” but Cortázar verified its authenticity. Prior to his role with the control agency, Cortázar had served as Correa’s intelligence and security advisor. Cortázar said he did not know who leaked the video to the Código Vidrio website, which released it to the public.
“What the tape reveals is criminal activity since government regulations cannot be changed to help a political party or candidates in an election,” says Jaime Carrillo, who held cabinet -level posts in three governments, including Correa’s. “More than attempting to influence the election it is clear that the additional gasoline would go to Colombian cocaine processors in the Amazon and that the explosives would be used by illegal miners.”
Technically, Carrillo says that the tape should have had no bearing on the habeas corpus decision since there is no prosecution and no conviction. “I am sure, however, that the judges are aware of it since it’s the biggest scandal of the week. For them, it would certainly reinforce the idea that Glas belongs behind bars.”
Following the video leak, members of the National Assembly Justice Commission said they will open an investigation to determine if a crime was committed.