Ecuador’s judiciary has submitted an extraordinary request to Belgium for former president Rafael Correa, who has been sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison for graft, authorities said on Friday.
Correa, who was president from 2007 to 17, was convicted two years ago after being found guilty of accepting funds from private businesses for his 2013 election campaign in return for state contracts worth around $7 million.
After leaving office in 2017, he escaped to Belgium, the home nation of his wife, where he has lived ever since.
Meanwhile, President of the National Court of Justice, Ivan Saquicela, said, “Yesterday I signed the ruling initiating the extradition process.”
As per Ecuador’s judiciary, Correa and several former government officials and businesspeople took part in a corruption scheme that saw bribes paid for public contracts during his presidency.
At the same time, Saquicela added, “We have a solid conviction. There is an agreement with Belgium and international agreements, as well as the extradition law, which supports our request from a legal perspective. There are no value judgements here.”
Correa responded on Twitter, calling Saquicela a “clown” and a government “puppet.”
The 59-year-old leftist economist has always denied the accusations and claims to be the victim of political persecution.
Correa was implicated over a $6,000 payment to his private account, which he claims was a loan.
He is also the subject of an arrest warrant over the 2012 kidnapping of a Colombian opposition politician.