The Constitutional Court of Ecuador (CCE) has endorsed the commencement of impeachment proceedings against suspended Vice-President Jorge Glas in a unanimous decision.
Following a debate on the constitutionality of the proposal, the move was approved on Thursday with eight votes in favor of starting a trial in the National Assembly against the disgraced official.
The decision is due to be reported to the Council of the Legislative Administration (CAL), after which it must be forwarded to the Supervisory Commission, which is responsible for determining Glas’ status the plenary session.
To enforce the former vice-president’s removal, two thirds of the legislators must ultimately vote in favor of impeachment.
On December 13, Glas was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of illicit association, bribery and corruption stemming from the massive corruption scandal centred on Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
Just hours before, the former vice-president had approached the National Court of Justice to request that his sentence be conditionally suspended.
The request was rejected by the court, which ruled that Glas does not meet the provisions of the Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code (COIP). In order to grant a suspended sentence, according to the COIP, the penalty must not exceed five years.
Both Glas and his defense attorney, Eduardo Loor, have argued that the trial is about exacting political revenge and that the crimes he stands accused of have not been proven.
Glas and his uncle Ricardo Rivera were two of nine people accused of criminal conduct in connection with the sprawling Latin American corruption case that has engulfed numerous public officials.
Odebrecht has already admitted paying US$788 million in bribes to officials in Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Peru and the Dominican Republic.