Former Ecuador President, Rafael Correa, was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison for corruption while in office, the attorney general’s office said Tuesday.
Correa, who was president from 2007 to 2017 but now lives in exile in Belgium, where his wife was born, was one of 18 people convicted of bribery, the office said on Twitter.
Correa, who has always claimed to be a victim of political persecution and accuses his country’s judges of complicity, hit out at the sentence.
“I know the process and what the judges say is a LIE. They’ve proved absolutely NOTHING. Pure false testimony without evidence,” he wrote on Twitter.
He was found guilty of accepting funds from private businesses for his 2013 election campaign in return for state contracts.
Amongst the others sentenced on Tuesday was former Vice-President Jorge Glas, who had already been sentenced to six years in prison in a separate case for accepting a bribe from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
The court also banned all those convicted from political “participation” for 25 years.
“This was what they were looking for: manipulating justice to achieve what they never could at the ballot box,” said the leftist Correa, who turned 57 on Monday.
The former leader said he was “concerned” for his colleagues, adding: “For sure we’ll win (an appeal) at the international level because all this is ridiculous.”