The Ecuadorian National Court of Justice on Tuesday barred Vice President Jorge Glas from leaving the country because he, along with other suspects, is being subjected to a formal investigatory hearing related to the Odebrecht corruption case, the Attorney General's Office said.
The travel prohibition was imposed "taking into consideration that, during the development of the pretrial and trial phase, (Glas) has attended all the hearings held by the Attorney General's Office."
The court also took into account, based on a request by the AG's Office, that "since he is the ... vice president," Glas needs to have "the full use of his right to mobility ... within the country," as well as the fact that "due to the office he holds, he has a permanent security detail" around him.
The AG's office announced Tuesday in a message on its Twitter account that Attorney General Carlos Baca had requested that Glas "be prohibited from leaving the country as a precautionary measure."
The National Court of Justice on Tuesday began hearing arguments that might link Glas criminally to the corruption charges against Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, a case that has turned up about a dozen suspects.
In the hearing, held in the absence of the Ecuadorian vice president, the AG's office presented the available evidence against Glas, such as his alleged crime of "illicit association" related to the case against Odebrecht.
Glas was represented by his attorney Eduardo Franco Loor, former judge of the National Court of Justice and who, upon his arrival at the court, said nothing to the media and did not confirm whether his client would make an appearance.
In remarks to the media after the hearing, the AG said that the measure was "fair and correct," and "above all, appropriate in the specific case of the vice president," rejecting the criticism leveled at judicial authorities for unfair treatment compared to the other people being investigated.
Prosecution of the Odebrecht case has turned up about a dozen suspects, including an uncle of Glas, identified as Ricardo Rivera.
The hearing is being held after the National Assembly authorized it last Friday, an inescapable procedure given the vice president's immunity status.
The AG's office requested the hearing after Glas's name emerged, in the investigations carried out over the past few months by prosecutor Diana Salazar, as possibly implicated in the massive corruption case.
Last December the US Justice Department reported that Brazil's Odebrecht company supposedly paid some $788 million in bribes in 12 countries of Latin America and Africa, including Ecuador.
The report indicated that in Ecuador, between 2007 and 2016, the Brazilian construction firm presumably paid bribes worth $35.5 million to government officials, which brought it profits said to be worth more than $116 million.