In a session marked by protests from his supporters, Ecuador’s National Assembly voted Thursday night to allow former president Rafael Correa to be prosecuted for his alleged role in 2012 kidnapping in Bogota, Colombia.
National Criminal Court Judge Daniela Camacho had requested confirmation from the assembly that Correa can be investigated and charged as an ordinary citizen with no special protection. The vote means that the former president, if tried and found guilty, can be sentenced to prison.
Correa supporters from the Citizen Revolution party, claimed that a case against the former president must be heard by the assembly since the charges against him are based on actions he took while he was in office.
Following the vote, opponents of Correa from the center-right CREO party chanted, “Correa prisoner, Correa prisoner,” and unfurled a large Ecuadorian flag,
In a press conference following the vote, assembly president Elizabeth Cabezas lamented the protests and celebrations but said the decision was made in accordance with the constitution. “A former president can face justice just as any other citizen can,” she said. “Special rights and protections apply only while he or she is in office. We voted to let the courts decide guilt or innocence in this case.”
The charges against Correa stem from the 2012 kidnapping of Fernando Balda, a former assemblyman who had criticized Correa and his intelligence agency for targeting “enemies of the government.” The kidnapping was stopped by Colombian police.