The Belgian judicial system came to ex-Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa’s defense, condemning journalist Ramiro Cueva to prison for threatening the former state head.
The Ecuadorean journalist was sentenced to three years in prison and fined US$1150 in civil damages and court fees following a series of serious threats lodged against the former president and his daughter, Anne-Dominique, who moved to Belgium following the end of his presidency in 2017.
Reports show that Cueva, a native of the northern village of Loja, recorded Correa and his daughter playing together. When discovered by the former official’s security personnel, he was searched and found to be unarmed. However, the journalist told members of the court that he his phone was stolen by Correa and he was beaten by the president’s bodyguards.
After a thorough investigation from footage taken from the phone and varying accounts of testimony, the journalist’s story was proven false. However, the defense’s clean record convinced the court ruled it was an isolated event and garnered him a lighter sentence.
Prosecution Attorney Christophe Marchand told AFP, "The court condemned Cueva for the insults and threats he made against President Correa and for lying to the court.”
On his personal Twitter account, Correa wrote, “This will teach these haters disguised as journalists what is a true rule of law and ethical and professional journalism.”
He regretted the negative effect this recent case will reflect on Ecuadoreans living abroad.
Since his retirement, the former president has resided in Belgium as been subject to numerous allegations of attempting to kidnap a former opposition lawmaker in 2012 as well as calls of extradition, although no charges have been filed. The president has complied with all legal demands and visited Ecuador's consulate to testify.
Correa denies any involvement in the case and has said there is no evidence linking him to the matter comparing his persecution to that of Lula da Silva.