Ecuador's former president, Rafael Correa, has dismissed charges against him, telling Euronews his former country was regaining a reputation as a "banana republic".
A court in Ecuador yesterday issued an arrest warrant against Correa, who led the country from 2007 to 2017, on charges of kidnapping a political opponent in 2012.
Euronews met up with him in an apartment close to Brussels where the former head of state now lives with his Belgian wife and children.
"What does the president of the republic have to do with this event? Rafael Correa told Euronews. "At the beginning, I wasn’t even accused. It happened in 2012. In 2013, the alleged victim presented a specific accusation and didn’t accuse me. But already in November they realized that with false testimonies they could point to the president. And they announced from this moment on: you will see how Correa will get an arrest warrant from Interpol, and they started this whole thing, which has no legal or logical basis."
Last month, Ecuador’s attorney general said he had enough evidence to prosecute Correa. This triggered demonstrations in the streets of Quito in support of the former president, who remains popular amongst some Ecuadorians for the welfare policies he implemented.
The presiding judge argues that Correa did not present himself at court in Quito, as asked, and ordered his arrest.
The former president says it was impossible for him to go back to his country, and added that the whole case is politically motivated, to bar him from playing any role in the future affairs of Ecuador.
"It hurts me to say this but Ecuador is seen again as a banana republic," added the former president. "No serious country will take into account an order for detention that is so clearly political, illegal, and absurd. Especially Belgium. But people are very nervous: my friends, my family, our militants…they say there will be a red notice from Interpol, they will capture Correa, extradite him and put him in jail in the Ecuadorean dictatorship. This is not possible. Nothing of this absurdity will happen, especially here in Belgium where there are a lot of guarantees. We are safe here. Nobody needs to worry about me, we need to worry about the country."
The Ecuadorean judge who wants to extradite Correa said Interpol had been informed of the arrest warrant. But the international police agency has yet to react officially.