Ecuador taking Mexico to court over asylum for ex-VP

Ecuador's ex-vice president Jorge Glas was arrested when police stormed Mexico's embassy in Quito (JOHN THYS)
Ecuador's ex-vice president Jorge Glas was arrested when police stormed Mexico's embassy in Quito (JOHN THYS)

Ecuador on Monday took Mexico to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for granting asylum to graft-accused former vice president Jorge Glas, who Quito captured in a controversial embassy raid.

The South American country filed a case Monday with the court in The Hague "for Mexico's violations of a series of international obligations" for granting Glas asylum at its embassy in Quito, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Ecuadoran security forces stormed the Mexican embassy on April 5 to arrest Glas, who is wanted on corruption charges dating from his time in office from 2013 to 2017.

The rare incursion on diplomatic territory sparked an international outcry and led Mexico to break ties with Ecuador, pulling its diplomats out of the country.

Mexico has filed a lawsuit against Ecuador at the ICJ, saying it wants the country suspended from the United Nations.

A hearing on that matter has been scheduled for Tuesday, with both countries set to make their case.

In its own, new filing, Ecuador argues that Mexico illegally used its embassy in Quito to "shield Mr Glas from enforcement by Ecuador of its criminal law," according to a statement from the ICJ.

Ecuador also argues that Mexico unlawfully granted Glas political asylum and interfered in its internal affairs.

- 'Illegal and arbitrary' -

Several Latin American states, Spain, the European Union, United States and the UN chief condemned the embassy intrusion as a violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations.

But Ecuadoran President Daniel Noboa has defended the raid as necessary to detain Glas because he posed a flight risk.

After his arrest, Glas was taken to a maximum-security prison in Ecuador's port city of Guayaquil, notorious for violent prison riots and drug-related gang violence.

Shortly after his capture, Glas was hospitalized due to what officials said was the 54-year-old's refusal to eat, and what the politician's allies said was a suicide attempt.

Glas was treated and returned to prison, from where he has appealed for "help" from the international community.

The former vice president had been released from prison in November 2022 after serving five years for corruption.

He faces new graft charges, for which an arrest warrant was issued in January.

Ecuador's National Court of Justice has ruled that Glas's embassy capture had been "illegal and arbitrary," but said he would remain behind bars pending a criminal investigation.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador irked Quito days before the raid by saying the murder of a popular presidential candidate ahead of elections last year had boosted the chances of Noboa.

Noboa had campaigned on clamping down on the narco violence that has engulfed the once-peaceful nation.

The Ecuadoran government said it found the comments offensive and ordered the Mexican ambassador to leave. The next day, Glas was granted asylum at the embassy, where he had been living since December.

He was captured hours later.

Ecuador refers to the spat in its ICJ filing, saying Mexico had "violated the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States" with "false and injurious statements calling into question the legitimacy of the 2023 elections in Ecuador."

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