Carlos Baca, the man who put Ecuador’s vice president in prison and prosecuted dozens of former government officials for corruption, is out of a job.
Following 11 hours of testimony, including an emotional defense from Baca himself, 128 of the National Assembly’s 131 members, voted Thursday night to censor and dismiss the attorney general. There were three abstentions.
The most serious charge against Baca stemmed from his release of a tape-recorded conversation between the former president of the assembly, Jose Serrano, and former comptroller Carlos Pólit, in which the two men discussed ways to remove Baca from office. Baca claimed he released the tape because he feared for his life and that of his family.
Almost unanimously, assembly members felt that Baca used the tape for personal and political reasons and not as evidence in a prosecution. “It was obvious that he saved the tape recording to use in his vedetta against Serrano when it should have been made public earlier as part of a legal investigation,” said assemblyman Henry Cucalón. “He never had the credentials for the job of chief prosecutor and his actions in this case proved why.”
Baca’s release of the audio tape in late February resulted in the dismissal of Serrano as head of the assembly. Serrano returned Thursday after a month-long vacation to vote for Baca’s removal.
Baca’s best-known case was his prosecution of former vice president Jorge Glas. Glas was convicted last year of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the Brazilian contractor Odebrecht. Glas is currently serving a six-year prison sentence.
In addition to Glas, Baca also prosecuted Pólit, former cabinet ministers Alecksey Mosquera, Carlos Pareja, Walter Soliz and Pedro Delgado, among others, all on corruption charges.
In his defense before the assembly, Baca said his “biggest mistake” was taking on Pólit, currently a fugitive from justice living in Miami. “Even though his corruption has been proven, he remains the most powerful man in Ecuador.”