A court in Ecuador has ruled that former president Jamil Mahuad, will serve a 12-year jail sentence for embezzlement.
The ruling comes two days after a warrant for his arrest was issued by Interpol. He has been sentenced in absentia.
He was accused of commanding banks to close for many days and freezing the accounts of ordinary citizens to protect the interests of bankers affiliated with him, BBC reports.
The incident occurred in March 1999 during a critical economic crisis. At the time, Ecuador was struggling with a devalued currency, extremely high inflation, and paltry prices for oil, its primary export.
Mahuad, who had been in office for less than a year, fled to the United States in 2000 after a military coup.
“The crime committed by the accused caused huge social turmoil. Its consequences are still being felt by Ecuadorean society to this day,” said Judge Ximena Vintimilla in her ruling.
Mahuad has however denied the embezzlement allegations, stating that it is “political persecution.”
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