Former vice president Jorge Glas walked out of the Latacunga Penitentiary on Sunday morning following a release order issued by a judge in Santa Elena Province. Judge Javier Moscoso granted habeas corpus based on concerns for Glas’ physical and mental health and because he has served more than 60 percent of his sentence. In total, Glas spent more than four-and-a-half years behind bars.
Glas, who was vice president from 2013 to 2017 in the Rafael Correa administration, was convicted of illicit association and accepting bribes from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
Édison Loaiza, Glas’ lawyer, said that instability in the country’s prisons was another factor in the release order. “The judge acknowledged the security crisis in the prison system, evidenced by recent riots and murders, and considered that the vice president’s safety could not be guaranteed,” Loaiza said. “The first consideration was his health, which has been poor for more than a year.”
In his ruling, the judge prohibited Glas from leaving the country and said he must appear before the court on a schedule to be determined. The order is based on humanitarian considerations, Moscoso said, and “in no way exonerates the defendant from the crimes committed.”
The Ministry of Communication and President Guillermo Lasso issued statements Saturday night criticizing the release order. “We consider the order premature and not in compliance with legal precedent since the judge who issued it was not in the jurisdiction of either the prison where the subject was incarcerated or his home,” the Communication Ministry said in its statement. “The judge’s rulng is being reviewed and an appeal is forthcoming.”
Lasso’s office said that the appeal will be filed by the National Service for Persons Deprived of Liberty (SNAI) despite the fact that SNAI issued an earlier statement that it respected the decision of the court.
Government Minister Francisco Jiménez described Glas’ grant of habeas corpus an embarrassment to the country’s legal system and predicts it will be overturned. “You don’t negotiate with corruption, you don’t play with justice,” he said.
Supporters of Glas began arriving at the Cotopaxi prison Saturday night, after the order for Glas’ release was made public. National Assembly member Fausto Jarrín of the UNES Correísta bloc, said he and others would remain on site “until we leave with our partner and friend, Jorge Glas.”
Jarrín claimed Glas has been a political prisoner and part of an “ongoing campaign” against the government of Rafael Correa. “Yes, he made mistakes but these were exaggerated for the purpose of sending him to prison,” he said. “It is my hope that this is the end of the witch hunt and that truth and justice will finally prevail.”
Jarrín added that Glas’ release is the first step in restoring the government of Correa. “It was through lies and deceit and the people of Ecuador were deprived of the great progess that Rafael Correa and Jorge Glas brought to this country. It is now our mission to bring back to power the Correista leadership.”