Ecuador ex-president ordered to stand trial for kidnapping
© WikiMedia (Cancillería Ecuador)
Ecuador ex-president ordered to stand trial for kidnapping

Ecuador’s National Court of Justice on Wednesday ordered Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, to stand trial for his alleged role in the 2012 attempted kidnapping of Correa’s political opponent, Fernando Balda.

Balda claims that five men attempted to kidnap him in Bogota in 2012 on Correa’s orders and that the kidnapping was discovered and halted by Colombian authorities.

Judge Daniella Camacho issued an order in June for Correa to appear at the court every 15 days starting July 2, 2018. Correa, who has been living in his wife’s home nation of Belgium since 2017, requested instead to report to Ecuador’s embassy in Belgium. Correa tweeted that the order was “a vulgar political persecution.”

The court responded by notifying the Interpol office in Quito of their intent to begin extradition proceedings.

Following a hearing on Wednesday, Camacho ordered Correa to stand trial for Balda’s kidnapping and also declared Correa a fugitive and ordered a freeze on his financial assets.

Correa’s presidency (2007-2017) sparked controversy for his efforts to consolidate power and suppress opposition. Human Rights Watch condemned both Correa’s use of Ecuador’s defamation laws to silence his critics and his judicial abuse of indigenous and environmental activists. In February the country voted to overrule a constitution amendment to end presidential term limits, which Correa had championed.

The court cannot move forward with the trial until Correa returns to Ecuador. Several news sources reported Thursday that Correa would be applying for political asylum in Belgium, but Correa’s representatives have denied these claims.