Ecuador’s National Assembly voted unanimously Friday afternoon to authorize criminal prosecution of Vice President Jorge Glas on corruption charges.
The vote came at the request of Ecuador’s National Court of Justice following a 10-count indictment of the vice president filed Monday by the federal prosecutor’s office. Under the constitution, the National Assembly must approve a criminal trial involving the president or vice president.
The vote was a foregone conclusion following a Thursday night meeting in which members of the majority Alianza País (AP) party, of which Glas is a member, agreed to vote as a block. Glas had asked AP members to vote to send him to trial so he could “clear his name” but some members had indicated they might vote against the court’s request.
Although the vote was unanimous, the assembly session was anything but harmonious. When assembly president and AP member José Serrano praised Glas for his “great achievements during the “Citizens Revolution,” opposition lawmakers demanded equal time to review the charges against the vice president.
When some lawmakers began chanting, “Debate, debate, debate,” Serrano moved for an immediate vote.
Following the vote, Fabricio Villamar, floor leader of the Creo party, claimed that Serrano’s move to deny debate was unconstitutional. “The purpose today was not to praise a possible criminal, it was to discuss the evidence against him,” he said. “Once again, the majority party has orchestrated a farce.”
Glas faces charges of “illicit association” in his handling of contracts with the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht. The court was awaiting the assembly vote to set a court date.