Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa (2007 - 2017) criticized Tuesday a decision by a national judge requiring him to appear in court in Ecuador instead of Belgium, where he lives, in the case of the alleged attempted kidnapping against former controversial opposition lawmaker Fernando Balda.
“The prosecutor links me to the Balda case without any valid reason, asks that I appear periodically before the diplomatic headquarters in Europe, where everyone knows I live, and the judge CHANGES the preventive measure to appearing every 15 days… in Ecuador! What is this?,” Correa said Monday via Twitter.
Judge Daniella Camacho of the national criminal court ruled in favor of the procedural validity of the case and linking Correa to unlawful association and kidnapping.
Outside the court, at least three Correa supporters were arrested as they were part of a protest against the court and the attorney general.
Balda’s legal team has argued that in 2012 Correa ordered the now-extinct National Intelligence Secretariat (Senain, for its Spanish acronym) to locate Balda and forcibly take him back to Ecuador where he had pending legal cases.
Correa has denied these claims.
During Monday’s hearing the general attorney, Paul Perez, presented the testimony of former secretary of intelligence Rommy Vallejo and the former director of police intelligence Fausto Tamayo as evidence that Correa had ordered the kidnapping.
Correa has affirmed he will appear in all hearings but warned the prosecution will not be able to find any material evidence against him. “They might be able to get false testimonies, but never material evidence,” Correa said via Twitter.
Balda’s attempted kidnapping occurred in 2012 in Colombia. That same year he was deported from Colombia at the request of the Ecuadorean government.
Correa and his supporters argue the case is an example of “lawfare” against progressive and left-wing politicians in Latin America to keep them away from political life, as it has been done in Brazil with Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva.
They highlight the fact that the attorney general was appointed by a participation council “unconstitutionally appointed.” In February, president Lenin Moreno held a referendum that allowed him to dismiss the members of the council and choose their replacements.
Balda, who is a former lawmaker with the right-wing opposition Patriotic Society party, was charged with conspiring to overthrow the government of Rafael Correa as part of the failed September 2010 coup against the former president which was led mainly by dissident police forces. However, he was in Colombia at the time of the charges and thus his prosecution was put on hold.
In October 2012 Balda was deported from Colombia, because he had been in the country without immigration permission and then he was required to face the charges against him on Oct. 25, 2012.
In January the following year he was convicted of the crime of threatening state security and a month later he was sentenced to one year in prison for that crime as well as giving false information which affected the honor of the state.