Glas served 4 years of an 8-year sentence in the Latacunga prison. Glas had received sentences of 6 years, 8 years and 8 years.
Jorge David Glas Espinel, former Vice President of Ecuador, left the Latacunga prison this morning, April 10, 2022, after only four years in prison. Upon leaving prison, Glas hugged his brother Heriberto, who accompanied him throughout the trial for the Odebrecht case.
As he exited the prison, Glas was applauded by dozens of supporters who were waiting for him with flags from Ecuador and the Citizen Revolution political movement, founded by Rafael Correa. Glas, in a full dark blue suit, with black glasses, an earring in his left ear and a dazzling smile, got into a car and held up a poster with Correa’s face.
Outside the prison, the former assembly member and current Andean parliamentarian, Virgilio Hernández, assembly member Pabel Muñoz and other assembly members of Correismo were also waiting for him.
Hernández said in a Facebook Live broadcast on the platform related to Correismo, KolectiVOZ, “This is just a drop of hope in a sea of persecution, with the citizen revolution continuing outside.”
While Muñoz said that Glas “has become a hero of the political process because he was sentenced by force of circumstance and not by evidence.” Former President Correa has not reacted directly to the release of Glas but has retweeted the posts by members of the Citizen Revolution assembly and other supporters.
Jorge Glas Espinel had been in prison since December 2017. He was serving a six-year sentence for the crime of illicit association in the Odebrecht case and eight years in prison for the crime of aggravated bribery in the 2012-2016 Bribery case. He was also sentenced to 8 years in prison for the crime of embezzlement in the Singue case.
Even though he has been released, Glas must comply with alternative measures to prison:
- Ban on leaving the country
- Presentation on the first Monday of each month in the Judicial Unit of Guayas.
Habeas corpus in favor of Jorge Glas
On Saturday, April 9th, Judge Javier Moscoso of the Multicompetent Judicial Unit of Manglaralto, coastal province of Santa Elena, granted Glas habeas corpus, a constitutional remedy to regain his freedom.
Edison Loayza, Glas’s lawyer, said yesterday that the appeal was accepted due to Glas’s “serious health situation” and because he has already served 60% of his sentence.
According to a report by Luis Barrios, a member of the Commission for Penitentiary Dialogue and Prison Pacification, Glas was in a “desperate state of mind” due to the end of his marriage, physical, material and property losses. He also says that she had “suicidal thoughts.”
Glas’s lawyer explained that the appeal also fits because, due to the riots in the Cotopaxi prison, Glas was taken out of jail to protect his life and “then it was not known which rehabilitation center they had transferred him to,” according to the lawyer.
The State wants to reverse habeas corpus. Saturday night, the National Service for Persons Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI) said in a statement posted on its Twitter account that “it must abide by the measure that corresponds to an exclusive decision of the judiciary.” However, a couple of hours later, the Presidency’s Communication Secretariat published a statement saying that the SNAI will appeal the judge’s decision to grant habeas corpus.
Sunday morning, Francisco Jiménez, Minister of Government, published an official letter on his Twitter account to Pablo Ramírez, Director of the SNAI, in which he asks him to exhaust all the mechanisms for challenging the ruling.
“Yesterday we experienced another embarrassing incident,” said Jiménez.
In a video released Sunday night on the social media accounts of the Ministry of Communication, Jiménez said that the government “categorically rejects the decision” of Judge Javier Moscoso of the Manglaralto Multicompetent Unit, who granted the habeas corpus.
The minister said that he ordered the Comprehensive Care Service for Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI) to file the corresponding legal resources in this case. He also said that they will exhaust all the resources that the law allows them.
The Minister added “it is outrageous to see how judges use the writ of habeas corpus to favor all kinds of criminals.” Jiménez said they share people’s “outrage.’ However, he clarified that “this government will not stick its hands in justice.”
Reactions of outrage and joy
At 9:31 p.m. on Saturday, the National Service for Persons Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI) said in a statement posted on its Twitter account that “it must abide by the measure that corresponds to an exclusive decision of the power judicial.”
However, at 11:02 p.m., the Presidential Communications Secretariat published a statement saying that the SNAI will appeal the decision of Judge Javier Moscoso of the Manglaralto Multicompetent Judicial Unit, who granted habeas corpus.
The Council of the Judiciary, the governing, administrative and disciplinary body of the Judiciary, also remains on the sidelines of Judge Moscoso’s decision. In a statement, the Judicial Council says that “it is obliged to respect the principle of internal independence, so it is not up to it to rule on the merits of the judge’s decision.” It also says that the Judicial Council cannot initiate a disciplinary procedure ex-officio against Judge Moscoso. It could only do so if an administrative complaint is filed.
It also clarified in the statement that only the SNAI has the power to present the appeals it considers against habeas corpus.
Meanwhile, dozens of supporters of Glas arrived at the outskirts of the Latacunga prison at dawn on Sunday to wait for his release from prison. In a video posted on the Twitter profile of #JusticiaParaJorgeGlas, his followers chanted “freedom, freedom for Jorge Glas.” In addition, Rafael Correa, former president of Ecuador, and a close friend of Glas, wrote on Twitter from his exile in Belgium, “Jorge was never and will never be alone. That is the fate of good men: they have powerful enemies, but many more friends.”
Former presidential candidate Andrés Arauz also wrote on Twitter: “It is a relief that Jorge can return to his family, to his home, to be sheltered by the warmth of militancy, by the megawatts of sovereignty and by the revenge of history.”
Habeas corpus granted
It was Judge Javier Moscoso of the Multicompetent Judicial Unit of Manglaralto, coastal province of Santa Elena, who granted habeas corpus, a constitutional remedy to regain his freedom, to Glas.
“The fundamental thing about this is because of the serious health situation in which Jorge Glas finds himself,” said his lawyer Edison Loayza about the habeas corpus. He said that doctors from the Ministry of Health have recommended that Glas be released from prison for health reasons.
However, Loayza did not detail what the former vice president suffers from.
Glas’s defense attorney explained that the appeal also fits because, due to the riots in the Cotopaxi prison, Glas was taken out of prison to protect his life “there it was not known which rehabilitation center they had transferred him to,” according to the lawyer. In addition, he said that Glas has already served more than 60% of his sentence, a requirement to benefit from habeas corpus.
Given the acceptance of habeas corpus, the State Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that the Prosecutor’s Office has shown “beyond reasonable doubt, the commission of the crimes and different judges and courts determined his criminal responsibility.”
Glas tried other unsuccessful attempts to reduce his sentences. On November 23, 2021, Judge Luis Vallejo, of the Latacunga Criminal Judicial Unit, denied the request for unification of sentences —legal figure that allows a convicted person to serve the highest sentence— presented by Glas.
Lasso opponents claim pact made to release Glas
Three political organizations denounced a supposed pact between the government and Correismo. Hours after former Vice President Jorge Glas was released from prison, the Democratic Left, the Christian Social Party and Pachakutik published statements stating that there is a pact between the government and the Union for Hope (UNES) coalition, a movement led by former president Rafael Correa.
The Democratic Left said in a statement published on April 10th that it “flatly rejects the illegal action of the judge that allows one of the few prosecuted and sentenced for his participation in the largest robbery perpetrated in the country, to enjoy freedom today.” It was a clear reference to the fact that Glas was sentenced for three corruption cases that happened while Correa was president and Glas vice president.
The Democratic Left said that they have warned of “the existence of this pact behind the scenes” that would have allowed the tax reform sent by President Guillermo Lasso to the National Assembly to be approved by the Ministry of Law when the UNES caucus abstained from voting for the bill to be filed. “What would be the cost to the government? we wondered at that time,” says the Democratic Left statement.
In the text shared on the social networks of the Democratic Left, the organization says that they demand that the national government adopt “all constitutional and legal actions in order to annul” the judge’s decision to hand over habeas corpus to Jorge Glas. In addition, they ask that the authorities “involved in this act that undermines the little confidence that remains in the citizenry” appear before the Assembly.
The Social Christian Party (PSC) made similar accusations. In a statement also published on Sunday, it says that “four undeniable facts prove the indisputable pact between President Guillermo Lasso and former President Rafael Correa.” These would be:
- Taxes “that threaten the prosperity of Ecuadorians.”
- The amnesties that the Assembly granted in March 2021. According to the statement, they were given to “common criminals” and “are unconstitutional and aggravate the problem of citizen security.”
- Precautionary measures “unconstitutional to justify their inaction in the National Assembly.” However, it does not clarify whether it refers to the precautionary measures that were granted to Gudalupe Llori, president of the Assembly and legislator for Pachakutik, to prevent the creation of a commission that would evaluate her management and that of the other members of the Legislative Administration Council. (LIME).
- Freedom “who is serving sentences for final judgments.”
The last two, the statement says, are also “gross interference in the independence of the legislative and judicial functions.” The PSC said that these actions have taken place “on the sly, on holidays, late at night or early in the morning, in improper jurisdictions and at a speed that contrasts with the slowness of justice.”
On April 10th, Pachakutik also published a statement denouncing an alleged pact between the government of Guillermo Lasso and other political organizations. In the text, the political organization says that it rejects the habeas corpus that was granted to Glas and that “for all citizens, the agreement reached between Correismo, the Social Christians and the government is evident.”
According to Pachakutik, President Guillermo Lasso “has become a disciple of the great master of corruption, Correa.” The next step, Pachakutik warns in the statement, “will be the pardon of the Correists in Mexico.” The organization refers to the 4 former assembly members related to Rafael Correa who are in asylum in Mexico because, according to them, they feared that they would be imprisoned as “part of a political persecution” after the national strike of October 2019.
In addition, says Pachakutik, the pact would have allowed tax reforms to be approved. “Now it’s coming for everything, the Justice, the Citizen Participation Council, the Comptroller’s Office and all the control bodies will be taken over,” the statement said.
In response to these accusations, on Monday night President Lasso said, “I would never agree with corruption, we have not agreed with corruption.”
Lasso lambasted the attacks from some political sectors suggesting that there is an agreement with the Correistas so that they allow him to carry out his governmental plan.
“It amazes me that the Ecuadorian elite, especially high-level lawyers, with great political experience, university professors, tell me, ‘No, Guillermo, what you argue is that in democracy an essential value is independence of powers. Yes, you are right, but not in this case. Oh, not in this case? And who determines in which case yes and in which case no? We criticized (Rafael) Correa for intervening in justice and now we criticize Lasso for not intervening in justice,” he said.