Several members of the National Assembly want to put the president of the country’s Judicial Council on trial for interfering with the justice system. At the heart of their case, they say, is a series of emails showing Gustavo Jalkh and former president Rafael Correa discussing court cases.
According to assemblyman Esteban Bernal, the evidence against Jalkh is overwhelming. “The emails are convincing and he and President Correa do not dispute their content,” says Bernal. “Their only defense is that the emails were not intended to be public. They want to shoot the messenger instead of admitting wrong-doing.”
In the emails, Jalkh, Correa and former justice minister Johana Pesantez, appear to discuss the outcomes of several trials. In one case, Jalkah talks about dismissing a judge who angered Correa by ruling in favor of Guayaquil millionaire and former presidential candidate Álvaro Noboa.
In another email exchange, Jalkah, Pesantez, and Correa discuss the political opinions and party affiliations of judicial candidates.
Following the release of the emails by a Venezuelan journalist, several former judges claimed they were fired by Jalkh for political reasons. In all, Bernal claims that as many as 40 judges were dismissed by Jalkh, with many of the dismissals coming as a result of pressure from Correa.
“It is well known that the legal system was compromised during the time of the Correa government,” says Bernal. “Jalkh remains in his position and continues to negatively influence the administration of justice in the country. We need to eliminate of him.”
Indirectly, Pesident Lenin Moreno referred to the controversy last week when he said he would put the question of judicial independence on a national referendum if he finds that the court system has been compromised. On Saturday, Correa dismissed the accusations, saying they are being mounted by his opponents.