Judge keeps former judiciary chief behind bars; Ex-VP Glas defies court order, refuses to return to prison; El Centro street dividers to be removed

Dec 29, 2023 | 0 comments

A National Court judge agreed Thursday with prosecutors that Wilman Terán, former president of Ecuador’s Judiciary Council, should remain jailed until he goes on trial in 120 days. Terán was one of 31 people arrested in the Operation Metastasis investigation, accused of accepting bribes from narco gang boss Leandro Norero to influence the outcome of court cases.

Judge Luis Rivera said that evidence presented by the prosecution, based on cell phone conversations and text messages, justified Terán’s pre-trial imprisonment. Terán’s attorney argued that the evidence did not prove Terán had participated in the crimes he is accused of and that he should be allowed freedom until he stands trial.

Former vice president Jorge Glas with President Rafael Correa in 2014.

Rivera also ruled that Xavier Muñoz, another member of the Judiciary Council, will remain in jail. In total, four of the five members of the council have been charged with corruption involving Norero.

On Thursday, the Attorney General’s office said it plans to make eight more arrests in the Operation Metastasis, bringing the total to 39. “We are just beginning to reveal the extent of official corruption in the case,” Attorney General Diana Salazar said. “There is much more to come.”

Among those arrested in Operation Metastasis to date are nine judges and eight high-ranking National Police officials.

Former VP Glas refuses return to prison 
The attorney for Jorge Glas says the former vice president will ignore a judge’s order that he return to prison. Glas, who is a “guest” at the Mexican embassy in Quito, has requested political asylum in Mexico.

Penitentiary Guarantees Judge Melissa Muñoz denied a pre-release appeal for Glas Thursday, ordering him to complete his prison term on two corruption convictions. She claimed that Glas’ behavior and activities in prison, where he had served 40% of his sentence, did not justify early release.

Glas’ lawyer Edison Loaiza, said he will appeal the judge’s decision but that Glas will not surrender to under any circumstances because “his integrity is at risk.” Loaiza also claimed that Glas is the subject of “political persecution” and is justified in remaining in the Mexican embassy.

Glas and Loaiza attended the hearing electronically, arguing that Glas had “earned the right” for early release through educational activities in prison. Loaiza also said Glas has received “inhuman treatment” in prison, claiming that his health had suffered as a consequence.

Glas was released from a Quito prison in November 2022 by Santo Domingo Judge Emerson Curipallo, one of the judges charged with the corruption in the Metastasis case. Curipallo cited Glas’ poor health in the decision.

El Centro street dividers to be removed
The city of Cuenca plans to remove 700 street dividers, or bollards, that officials say pose a safety hazard for pedestrians. The dividers, most of them located in the historical district, were originally installed to separate vehicle traffic from pedestrian walkways. Most are made of concrete or metal and measure about 60 centimeters in height.

Xavier Aguirre, director of historical areas, says the original intent of the dividers was good. “Unfortunately, there were unforeseen consequences and they have proven to be hazard to the public. There have been a number of injuries as a result of pedestrians tripping over them.”

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