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Ecuador’s Vice-President Sentence to Six Year in Jail in Connection to the Odebrecht Scheme

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Ecuador’s Vice-President Jorge Glas has been sentenced to six years in jail in connection to corruption at Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. Prosecutors say Glas received $13.5m (£10.2m) in bribes from the company from 2012-2016 in exchange for contracts.
Glas, who had served as Vice-President since May 2013, was relieved of his duties by President Moreno on the 3rd August 2017 when corruption allegations against Glas first began, with judicial investigations beginning 3 days after. Moreno was unable to relieve him of his position however as Glas obtained the position of Vice-President through popular vote.

Glas was first detained on 3rd October 2017 in order to prevent him from fleeing the country, and he remained incarcerated until and throughout his trial. Charges were officially brought against Glas on 8th November, with the National Court beginning his trial on the 24th along with 12 others accused in relation to the Odebrecht scheme. On 15th December, Glas was sentenced to 6 years in jail having been found guilty of accepting bribes from Odebrecht, alongside 6 others including his Uncle who was also found to be guilty. During the trial, prosecutors say Glas received bribe payments via his Uncle, Ricardo Rivera.

Former President Rafael Correa has denounced the sentence, saying the courts have imprisoned “an innocent”, and believes the trial against Glas has been politically motivated. Glas’s defence council, Eduardo Loor, announced after the sentencing that he will be appealing the 6-year sentence, and has called it “barbaric”. Glas continues to protest his innocence.

On the 17th of December, the President of Ecuador’s National Assembly, Jose Salgado, announced the country would be going forward with impeachment hearings of Glas. Days later, after receiving unanimous backing, Ecuador’s National Courts paved the way to begin proceedings into the dismissal of Glas from his position as despite his sentence he was refusing to step down as Vice-President. On the 27th, the impeachment of Glas took place, with Glas having 5 days to present written or oral exculpatory evidence to defend himself. The impeachment was, in the end, unnecessary in the removal of Glas from his position. On the 2nd January 2018 under Ecuador’s Constitution’s Article 146, Glas was stripped of his position after being unable to exercise his office for 90 days due to his incarceration. President Moreno has been given 15 days to put forward the names of three candidates for the position of Vice-President, but it is suspected he will do so well before the 15 days given.

Glas at present is the highest-ranking politician to be convicted in the scandal that has spread across much of Latin America, which is being called one of the biggest corporate corruption cases in history. Widespread protests have occurred across Latin America, with the scheme bringing issues of corruption to the forefront of prosecutors and the Medias agendas. Former CEO Marcelo Odebrecht is currently serving a 19-year jail term which began in 2016, and has since provided information to the authorities regarding others involvement in the scheme, including information that was used in Glas’s trial. Over 70 other Odebrecht executives have been jailed, with many of them offering information in exchange for more lenient sentences. At present, $785.5m worth of bribe payments have been admitted by various Latin American and two African countries, with a further $26.5m suspected.