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Attorney General Salazar’s series of tweets implies Justice Department is being pressured to release comptroller Celi from jail

Published on June 16, 2021

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“President Guillermo Lasso, your concern is legitimate but they are not government officials, but former authorities and personnel from other functions and ‘distinguished citizens’, who have wanted to advocate for the review of measures ordered against the accused Pablo C.”

This was Attorney General Diana Salazar’s response to the President of Ecuador, who questioned her series of tweets on Monday morning suggesting that the Department of Justice was being pressured to allow changes in the detention orders for Deputy Comptroller Pablo Celi.

“Prosecutor Diana Salazar, in relation to your complaint, I ask you to specify whether any official of my Government has exerted any kind of pressure to proceed accordingly.”

That was the tweet that President Guillermo Lasso wrote in his personal account on Monday afternoon in response to the series of messages posted by Salazar earlier in the day.

Salazar had begun the day by posting, “As long as the defendants remain in power, it will be very difficult for justice to do its job with speed and transparency. I watch with concern how some people continue to enjoy the support of those who owe them favors. Unthinkable”.

In a thread of messages, the prosecutor continued by saying: “I insist: Do not count on me to twist justice, I do not owe favors to anyone. No defendant should enjoy privileges, under any circumstances, worse if it is to collect favors that were made with money from the Ecuadorian people.”

Finally, the attorney general announced that due to a problem with her health, she requested the postponement of the hearing to review the precautionary measures requested by the comptroller Pablo Celi, one of the thirteen being prosecuted for the crime organized crime, within the so-called Las Torres case.

Regarding the request for deferral, Salazar wrote on Twitter saying: “Due to a mishap in my health, I have requested the postponement of the hearing to review Pablo C.’s measures, scheduled for today, because I must attend to myself. I hope that the justice does not feel pressure when prosecuting a control authority in office.”

The revocation hearing was set for 11:30 this Monday in the National Court, but due to Salazar’s request it was pushed to next Monday, June 21 at 11:30.

The national judge Felipe Córdova, who is in charge of the case for organized crime, will be the magistrate who analyzes the arguments that are delivered in the revocation hearing to request the change of the preventive prison, for any other of the existing precautionary measures: periodic presentation, prohibition of leaving the country, and the use of shackles.

Celi got sick in prison

At dawn last Wednesday, the deputy comptroller was transferred from Prison 4, where he is serving preventive detention, to the Eugenio Espejo hospital in Quito, as he tested positive for COVID-19. Celi reportedly presented with a high fever and complications in his respiratory tract, which led to an ambulance being called and after an assessment he was transferred to a hospital.

Today marks the 60 days of unpaid leave that Celi asked for from the Comptroller’s Office and last week he submitted a request to access sick leave.

Celi’s lawyer, Marcelo Ron, described the postponement of the hearing as “regrettable” and clarified that the health status of his client is critical.

“He continues to be sick; he continues to extend his stay not only in Prison 4, but now in the Eugenio Espejo hospital, which turns out to be worse than Prison 4, due to the isolation it has.”

Ron was surprised by the decision of the attorney general to request a postponement of the hearing for medical issues, even more so when, he says, the official could have delegated her deputy prosecutor or another member of the prosecution. The lawyer explained that the Salazar presented a medical certificate stating that she has blood pressure problems.

Once Celi was transferred to the health center in Quito for issues related to Covid-19, Ron indicated that legally this Monday’s hearing should be a positive result because all the elements that served as the basis for prison preventive have been distorted. He says it is also a matter of legal equality and equality as citizens, “as there are other defendants who are enjoying alternative measures in the same case and the same facts.”

To these arguments, Marcelo Ron adds the health issue that his client is going through, not only because of the positive COVID-19 that he has, but also because of complications in his right eye, due to an alleged lack of specialized medical attention in the prison in which he finds himself, is causing him to lose vision.

Ron announced that they will accept any other precautionary measure that is considered.


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