President Guillermo Lasso should face an impeachment trial in the National Assembly and be dismissed from office. That is the recommendation of a draft report released Tuesday by the special commission investigating corruption in public companies and government ties in an Albanian drug cartel.
The commission, controlled by the Correista branch of the Assembly, meets Wednesday morning to make its recommendation final.
The report claims that Lasso violated the constitution and is guilty of “crimes against public safety and crimes against public administration such as racketeering and bribery.” It concludes that his crimes constitute “acts of treason against the homeland.”
Lasso’s supporters denounced the report’s recommendation and said they would present their own minority report, demanding “hard evidence” of the president’s guilt. “They give no real evidence of crimes in this report and it is clear that they have none,” said Gruber Zambrano of the Assembly’s BAN-CREO alliance. “It is clear that their charges are purely political and not based on legal due process.”
He also criticized the way the draft document was circulated, pointing out that special commission chair, Viviana Veloz, said it would only be released when it had received a final vote from commission members. “The early release is a political stunt of Correismo,” he said.
The 221-page report describes impeachment as “a democratic and constitutional path that serves as a mechanism for the protection of citizens against the arbitrariness of presidential power.” The report recommends:
- That the commission’s findings be presented to the Attorney General’s office and the State Comptroller General’s office and that those authorities initiate criminal and administrative investigations, respectively, in relation to the facts in the report
- That President Lasso be prosecuted for violating article 129, item 1 of the Constitution, which provides grounds for censorship and dismissal from office for the commission of crimes against state security that amount to treason.
- That President Lasso be prosecuted for violating article 129, item 2 of the Constitution, for the commission of crimes against the public administration, specifically criminal offenses of bribery, concussion and embezzlement.
The commission’s recommendation will go to Assembly President Virgilio Saquicela and if it has the support of 46 Assembly members, it will be presented to the Constitutional Court for an admissibility review.
The report concludes that: “The commission of alleged crimes against the public administration and against the structure of the country is evidenced based on the findings of former Anti-Corruption Secretary Luis Verdesoto. The president also interfered in the state investigation by the State Attorney General’s office in the case of Rubén Cherres and allowed the commission of execrable crimes that put the public security of the state at serious risk.”
Juan Fernando Flores (BAN-CREO) agreed with Zambrano that the release of the draft report was politically motivated. He also suggested that the report had been completed days earlier, possibly with the direct influence of former president Rafael Correa “It is clear it was written and sent from out of the country and was not the work of the commission,” he said.
Ricardo Vanegas, of the Pachakutik bloc, described as “dangerous” that the commission does not understand Ecuador’s criminal code. “How ignorant that they talk about treason when the crimes they allege involve internal, not external security.” He added that he doubted the Correistas will be able to find 92 votes for impeachment.