By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa was convicted and sentenced in absentia Tuesday to eight years in prison on corruption charges.
Correa was convicted along his vice president Jorge Glas and 19 other high-ranking officials and businessmen who supposedly received $8 million in bribes in exchange for awarding contracts.
The court also banned Correa from participating in politics for 25 years.
Following the ruling, Correa tweeted the sentence is a form of political persecution intended to prevent him from returning to politics.
“Well, this is what they were looking for: taking control of the justice system to achieve what they could never achieve at the polls,” he said. “I'm fine. I'm worried about my partners. We will win for sure on an international level, because everything is a lie, but it will take time. It's up to your vote to end this nightmare.”
Correa ruled from 2007 to 2017 but then moved to Belgium after handing power to Lenin Moreno, from whom he soon distanced amidst mutual accusations.
Correa had expressed interest in running for office in 2021.
All this is occurring as Ecuador suffers through the coronavirus pandemic that has left hundreds of families waiting for authorities to remove bodies of loved ones who remain in the streets and houses in the coastal city of Guayaquil.