Ecuador court orders ex-president Correa’s arrest

This file photo taken on September 22, 2017 shows former Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa during an interview with AFP in Bogota.

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Rafael Correa, seen here in 2017, denies any involvement in the botched kidnapping

A court in Ecuador ordered the arrest of former president Rafael Correa on Tuesday over alleged involvement in the 2012 kidnapping of an opponent.

Mr Correa, who now lives in his wife’s native Belgium, denies the allegations.

Judge Daniella Camacho said she has alerted Interpol in a bid to have him extradited.

Former lawmaker Fernando Balda was briefly kidnapped in Colombia, where he fled after being convicted for slander against Mr Correa.

He accuses the then-president, who led the Andean nation between 2007 and 2017, of masterminding the abduction.

On Tuesday, the judge said Mr Correa has failed to comply with an order to appear in court in Quito to assist with the investigation.

The ex-president instead presented himself to the Ecuadorian consulate in Brussels, which the judge said was a violation of her orders.

The three-term ex-president has repeatedly insisted to have had nothing to do with the botched abduction – which was intercepted by police after a few hours.

He recently tweeted: “They’ll never prove anything, because there is nothing.”

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Fernando Balda (c) accuses the former president with orchestrating his attempted kidnapping in 2012

He accuses the current president, his former deputy LenĂ­n Moreno, of conducting smear campaign against him. The once-allied left-wing leaders split very publicly after Mr Moreno’s election in May 2017.

Mr Correa’s lawyer told journalists that the latest decision was a result of political pressure from Mr Moreno, adding that he would appeal.

“This decision is arbitrary, it is a lie, it is defamatory,” Caupolican Ochoa said. “I do not believe they are seeking justice but rather revenge.”

Arrest warrants have already been issued for three police intelligence agents, an ex-police commander and a former top intelligence official, who was arrested in Spain last month.