Rafael Correa, former president of Ecuador, is to be tried in absentia for corruption, an Ecuadorian judge has ruled. Correa, whose wife is Belgian, stepped down at the end of his third term in office in 2017, since when he has been resident in Belgium.
Correa is accused of financing his 2013 re-election campaign with bribes from companies who were paid back by being handed lucrative government contracts. He was seeking re-election after being elected in 2006 and serving as president from 2007.
He was re-elected in 2009 and 2013, having made waves by defaulting on some $3 billion dollars in international debts, which he declared illegitimate, and cutting the value of outstanding government bonds by 60%. But despite cutting poverty and increasing GDP growth, a series of domestic and international pressures forced Ecuador’s president to resign.
He is accused of having received $8 million in contributions, from among others the Brazilian construction group Odebrecht. He will stand trial along with 20 other people, including businessmen, high-level officials and the former vice-president Jorge Glas, his running mate in his 2013 re-election who has already been sentenced to six years in prison for another bribery scandal.
The 21 accused were committed for trial by Daniella Camacho, a judge on the National Court of Justice, the South American country’s highest court. Correa denies the charges, which he claims are politically motivated.
Correa is also being investigated for his role in the kidnapping of opposition politician Fernando Balda in Colombia in 2013. However according to Ecuadorian law he cannot be tried in absentia for that crime.
Correa met his Belgian wife Anne Malherbe Gosselin when he was a post-graduate student at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve (UCL), graduating in June 1991. The couple married the following year.