Impeachment Process of VP Glas Authorized by Ecuador's Assembly

Jorge Glas has been sentenced to six years in prison for corruption linked to the sprawling Odebrecht case in what his supporters are calling a 'political witch-hunt.'

A body within the Ecuadorian National Assembly has given the greenlight for an impeachment trial to take place against former Vice-President Jorge Glas after he was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption.

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Four of the seven lawmakers that make up the Legislative Administration Council voted in favor late Tuesday of the motion to authorize the prosecution commission within parliament to begin the impeachment process against Glas. 

The news comes just days after the Constitutional Court unanimously endorsed the launch of impeachment proceedings against the suspended official. The council had previously failed to pass the motion three times becausee of a lack of support in the top court. 

Glas, who was also the vice-president under former president Rafael Correa, now has five days to present his defence against the impeachment to the assembly. He can delegate a lawmaker to carry out his defence, which is likely to be the case given that he is already being held in preventive detention.

Roberto Gomez, from the right-wing opposition CREO movement leading the case against Glas, also has five days to present his own arguments for impeachment, which will be analyzed to consider whether it meets the parameters established in the constitution.

Glas has been in detention since October, when charges were brought against him over receiving bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in return for awarding the scandal-ridden firm lucrative state contracts.

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Glas was elected vice-president in the second electoral round last April, with President Lenin Moreno as leader of the left-wing Alianza Pais. He served as vice president since 2013 under Correa, who has been critical of the trial against his ally, accusing the courts of many irregularities and saying that Glas is "innocent."

Lenin ran his presidential campaign under the leftist agenda of his predecessor but has largely broken from Correa and worked to appease right-wing political and economic actors in the country.

Correa and his supporters have accused the new president of “betraying” the ideals of the ruling party AP, which was founded by Correa more than a decade ago and argue that prosecuting Glas is a entirely political.

Odebrecht allegedly paid US$33.5 million in bribes to secure contracts in Ecuador. The opposition says that Correa's government was slow to investigate, although he rejects that.

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Impeachment of Ecuador's Jorge Glas 'Far From Finished'

While significant progress was made on Tuesday with the appointment of Judge Manuel Viter, the process still requires an inordinate amount of work to get underway.

Ecuador's Legislative Administrative Council (CAL) is taking steps to fast-track moves to have former Vice-President Jorge Glas impeached in the shortest possible time, according to reports, but one analyst warns the task will be difficult to complete.

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According to an article by Diego Puente in El Comercio, even if the process was completed in shortest possible time, it would take at least 28 days according to the rules established in the Organic Law of the Legislative Function and the Law of Jurisdictional Guarantees.

This estimate doesn't take into consideration that there is no fixed time for some stages of the impeachment proceedings, nor does it consider legal moves by Glas to have them delayed or even halted altogether.             Supporters of Jorge Glas during his trial for corruption involving Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, in Quito, Ecuador, December 13.

While significant progress was made Tuesday with the appointment of Judge Manuel Viteri, mandated to give a ruling on the constitutionality of the move by December 22, the process still requires an inordinate amount of work to get underway.

Roberto Gomez, from the Creo movement against the suspended vice-president, must present a case which will then be analysed to consider whether it falls in line with the parameters established in the constitution for impeachment. 

After Viteri reviews and prepares the draft constitutional opinion of the trial request, the President of the Court will convene a plenary session within 24 hours.

The judgment from this meeting will be issued within 48 hours of the presentation of the project and must be approved by two-thirds of the members of the Plenary (at least six of nine votes). 

If the Constitutional Court issues a favorable opinion, President of the Assembly José Serrano will inform the Legislative Administration Council (CAL), for the start of processing, with the case being sent to the Supervisory Commission.

Glas has been in preventive detention since October. On January 2 he will meet the 90 days of imprisonment established by law, so in the first instance the case would opt to remove him for the abandonment of his position rather than impeachment, which would delay the process.

Glas was elected vice-president in the second electoral round last April, with President Lenin Moreno as leader of the left-wing Alianza País. 

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Reacting on Twitter last Wednesday, former president Rafael Correa denounced the sentence as condemning "an innocent." 

"A trial full of so many irregularities will have to go to the international bodies, but they already have their objective: to seize the vice presidency," Correa wrote.

"The same script as with Dilma, Lula, Cristina. It's all a matter of time, and our people will react."

Glas' defense counsel, Eduardo Franco Loor, has also announced that he will appeal the six-year sentence, which he described as "iniquitous" and "barbaric," insisting that his client will not resign.

"The temporary suspension of the sentence will be requested immediately, as established by the regulations so that the vice president can recover his freedom as soon as possible," Loor said. "Of course, he will continue as vice president of the country."

The sentence was handed down by Edgar Flores Mier, who granted Attorney General Carlos Baca's requested six-year jail sentence. Baca argued that "the prosecution has presented the evidence with which it based its trial, and now it is up to the judges to establish culpability or ratify innocence."

Glas and his uncle Ricardo Rivera were two of nine people accused of criminal conduct in connection with the sprawling Latin American corruption case. Odebrecht has admitted paying US$788 million in bribes to officials in Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Peru and the Dominican Republic.


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