Former Vice President of the Republic of Ecuador, Jorge Glas, was granted a life pension by Judge Elueterio Aguilar in a protection action ruling on April 13, 2023.
The decision ordered the government, through the Ministry of Finance, to restore the monthly pension of $4,507 to Glas and to reward him the payments that were cancelled between 2020 and 2023, when Gals was imprisoned after being convicted of a variety of charges.
However, four days after the ruling, the Ministry of Finance claimed that it did not have the power to restore the pension in favor of Glas. They also filed an appeal to the court order and claimed that due process had been violated. Judge Aguilar had given the Ministry of Finance 10 days to make the payments, but the ministry issued a statement six days before the deadline stating that they did not have the legal authority to restore the life pension.
The protection action was filed for the benefit of Glas by Juan Antonio Romero, and the judge ruled that the constitutional rights of Jorge Glas were violated.
Judge says Glas is also due past payments
The magistrate established several reparation measures in favor of the former vice president, including the voiding of the provision to exclude Glas from the payment of monthly life pensions, the return of the payment of the pension by the Ministry of Finance, and the payment of the pensions that were suspended between 2020 and 2023.
The Ministry of Finance was also ordered to provide economic compensation to Glas for the loss of his income due to being excluded from the payment of the life pension without constitutional support. The ministry must also notify Judge Aguilar of compliance with the reparation measures within 15 days, and the sentence must be given to President Guillermo Lasso and the Central Bank.
The legal debate stems from the decision made by the Ministry of Finance in September 2020, which suspended pension payments to both Glas, and former President Rafael Correa based on the reforms to the Public Service Law. The law exempts from the pension benefit those leaders with sentences for crimes of embezzlement, bribery, and extortion.
Glas and Correa were sentenced to eight years in prison for the crime of bribery in the Bribes case in 2020. The plaintiffs in the protection action argued that this reform would not be applicable to Glas because the Assembly approved it in June 2020, while the judgment for the Bribes case was handed down in April of that year. They claimed that the law cannot be applied retroactively.
During the hearing, Glas’s interests were defended by attorney Willington Luna. However, Luna said that he did not sponsor that lawsuit. The name of the lawyer Karen Gómez Subía appears in the documents of the process because the notifications were made in her judicial booth. When she was contacted, she refused to give an interview about it.
It remains to be seen how the legal debate will be resolved, but the protection action ruling has caused controversy in Ecuador. Some believe that it is an attempt by Glas to reclaim his political power, while others believe that the decision is a necessary step towards restoring justice in the country.
Luna has stated that this decision to withhold the pension payments was unfair, and that Glas is entitled to the pension as he had been elected Vice President twice. The plaintiffs have argued that Glas’ constitutional rights were violated when the Ministry of Finance suspended his pension payments in September 2020, citing the Public Service Law, which exempts leaders with sentences for crimes of embezzlement, bribery, and extortion from receiving pension benefits.
Sentenced in Bribery Case
Glas was sentenced to eight years in prison for the crime of bribery in the Bribes case in 2020, along with former President Rafael Correa. They were accused of charging bribes to state contractors in exchange for the award of works. The plaintiffs argued that the reforms to the Public Service Law cannot be applied retroactively, as the judgment for the Bribes case was handed down in April of that year and the Assembly approved the reform in June of the same year.
However, it is important to note that the judgment to which the claim refers was that of first instance, while the Bribery case ruling was only executed in September 2020 when the appeal judgment was issued, which is the last instance in the final process.
The Ministry of Finance argues that it does not have the power to restore the pension to Glas, but the judge’s ruling requires that they do so. This has resulted in a legal debate over whether the Ministry of Finance has the power to carry out the judge’s ruling, or whether it is a violation of due process.
The former Vice President’s case has sparked controversy in Ecuador, with some arguing that he is not entitled to receive the pension due to his conviction for bribery. Others argue that the reforms to the Public Service Law cannot be applied retroactively, and Glas is entitled to the pension.
The legal debate over this issue is likely to continue, and the Ministry of Finance may be required to appeal the ruling or take other legal action to resolve the issue.