Jorge Glas remains in prison as judge’s authority is questioned; Rapid Covid-19 tests will be free; Drug money influencing officials, ex-ambassador says
Former vice president Jorge Glas remains in prison while the legality of a judge’s order for his release is questioned by the National Judicial Council. At the time Judge Banny Molina issued the habeas corpus for Glas and Daniel Salcedo, Molina was facing charges for mishandling a 2018 corruption case, the Council says.
“Because he faced charges filed by the prosecutor’s office and was under investigation for other irregularities, it is not clear that Molina was authorized to issue the habeas corpus on August 5,” a spokeswoman for the council said. “This is beyond the jurisdiction question of his authority as well as procedural violations he may have committed.”
It was also unclear why Molina even considered the cases of Glas and Salcedo, serving a 13-year prison sentence for fraud in the sale of medicine to public and Social Security health systems. “Neither the legal representatives for the vice president or court or prison authorities were alerted to the fact that the judge was considering his action,” the spokeswoman said.
Although a Manabí court judge dismissed criminal charges against Molina in May for his decision to allow a man convicted of embezzlement to serve his sentence at home, the prosecutor’s office successfully appealed the ruling, requiring a trial for an unspecified date.
As a result of the appeal, the Judicial Council believes Molina’s authority as a judge had been suspended and his rulings are null.
Former U.S. ambassador says drug money is influencing government
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Todd Chapman is claiming that the influence of drug traffickers has “infiltrated Ecuador’s political system,” affecting all aspects of the country’s governance. “Illegal drugs has done a lot of damage to both the U.S. and Ecuador but the damage is more extensive in Ecuador,” he said.
Last year, the U.S. revoked the visas of more than 100 Ecuadorian officials, most of them members of the military and the National Police, claiming they were involved in corruption. “I leave it to Ecuadorian authorities to identify these people and act accordingly,” Chapman said. He suggested many of the cases involved the influence of drug money.
Ecuador has suspended at least a dozen military officers, including three generals, as a result of the U.S. claim, but Chapman says more needs to be done. “To strengthen the relationship between our two countries, the corruption should be weeded out,” he says, adding that trust in government and business projects cannot be maintained without it.
“I regret the violence and corruption Ecuador has endured as a result of trafficking,” Chapman said. “It has left its mark on the country and needs to be expunged.”
Chapman recently left the U.S. diplomatic service to enter private business.
Rapid Covid-19 tests will be free
The Minister of Health has authorized the distribution of Covid-19 rapid tests to the public. The tests will be available free of charge through pharmacies and other outlets authorized by the National Control and Regulation Agency beginning August 15. The tests will not require a medical prescription.
Health Minister José Ruales said the tests will be registered to track distribution and that the public will be encouraged to report results to the ministry. He said the tests are 90% to 95% accurate.