Ecuador’s ex-VP hospitalised after capture in embassy raid

Ecuador’s ex-VP hospitalised after capture in embassy raid
Ecuador’s ex-VP hospitalised after capture in embassy raid

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - This handout picture released by the Ecuadorian Police shows former Ecuadorian vice president Jorge Glas being escorted by members of the Special Penitentiary Action Group (GEAP) during his arrival at the maximum security prison La Roca in Guayaquil on April 6, 2024. Ecuadorian authorities stormed the Mexican embassy in Quito on April 5 to arrest former vice president Jorge Glas, who had been granted political asylum there, prompting Mexico to sever diplomatic ties after the ‘violation of international law’. — Handout / Ecuadorian Police / AFP pic

GUAYAQUIL (Ecuador) April 9 — Ecuador’s ex-vice president Jorge Glas, arrested in a raid on Mexico’s embassy in Quito, has been hospitalised after refusing to eat, the prison authority announced as a diplomatic spat over his capture spiraled.

Glas, 54, was in stable condition at a naval hospital in Guayaquil, the SNAI authority said in a statement late yesterday, and will be kept under observation.

Ecuador carried out a raid on Mexico’s embassy Friday to capture Glas, who sought refuge there last December pending a corruption investigation against him.

Mexico had granted him political refugee status just hours before.

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A Brussels-based lawyer for Glas told AFP earlier yesterday that she feared for his life and pleaded for international help.

“I believe that Jorge Glas is at grave risk, at imminent risk, in the hands of the (Ecuadoran) government. It was a kidnapping, and I believe at any moment they could kill him,” Sonia Vera said.

The SNAI statement said Glas had not responded during roll call at Guayas prison Monday.

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He appeared to have fallen ill after refusing to eat for 24 hours, it added, and was taken to hospital.

Local media, citing a police report, said Glas went into a “self-induced coma” after taking antidepressants.

Ecuadoran special forces equipped with a battering ram had surrounded the Mexican embassy late Friday, and at least one agent scaled the walls, in an almost unheard-of raid on diplomatic premises, which are considered inviolable sovereign territory.

The intrusion triggered a political storm, with Mexico, several other Latin American states, Spain, the European Union and the UN chief condemning it as a violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention governing international relations.

Mexico, which cut diplomatic relations and pulled its diplomatic personnel from Ecuador, said it was filing a complaint at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Leaders of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will discuss a proposal for “firm condemnation” and possible sanctions against Ecuador at a virtual summit on Friday, Honduran President Xiomara Castro, who chairs the bloc, said in a statement yesterday.

Former Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa, under whom Glas served as vice president from 2013 to 2017, said on Tuesday that Ecuador had done “irreparable damage” to its global standing with the embassy raid.

“There is a kidnapped person whose life is in danger, whose human rights, all due process have been violated, whose asylum has been disrespected,” Correa said in Belgium, where he lives in exile to escape a graft conviction in his native country.

“I ask the world to make whatever political and judicial pressures are necessary, because this is not going to stop.”

‘Truly authoritarian’

Mexico’s president said yesterday the raid was a “truly authoritarian” action by his Ecuadoran counterpart Daniel Noboa, 36, who took office in November.

“When there are weak governments that do not have popular support or capacity... those who do not have experience come” to power, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a regular news conference.

But “politics is a noble profession,” and when you lack experience or popular support, “you must act with prudence, balancing passion and reason,” he added.

Noboa said he was willing to “resolve any difference” with Mexico, but defended his government’s actions by saying Glas posed a flight risk.

“We could not allow sentenced criminals involved in very serious crimes to be given asylum,” he said.

Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld added that Quito was open to “reestablishing relations with Mexico, respecting the sovereignty of our country.”

Glas had been released from prison in November 2022 after serving five years for corruption.

He faces new graft charges, for which an arrest warrant was issued in January.

The storming of the embassy came amid a diplomatic spat between Mexico and Ecuador.

Lopez Obrador irked Quito days before the raid by saying the murder of a popular candidate ahead of elections in Ecuador last year had boosted the chances of Noboa, who campaigned on clamping down on the narco violence that has engulfed the once-peaceful nation.

The Ecuadoran government said it found the comments offensive and ordered the Mexican ambassador to leave. — AFP

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