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Raid at Mexican embassy 'exceptional', top UN court told

By AFP

May 1, 2024 05:17 PM


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Ecuador's early April raid on Mexico's embassy to seize a former top Ecuadoran official was "exceptional" and aimed "solely" to bring a wanted fugitive to justice, the UN's top court heard on Wednesday.

Security forces stormed the Mexican embassy in Quito on April 5 to arrest Ecuador's ex-vice president Jorge Glas, who was wanted on corruption charges and had been granted asylum by Mexico.

"The events of 5 April were exceptional and no longer exists today," Ecuador's ambassador to the Netherlands told the International Court of Justice.

"Mexico for months misused its diplomatic premises in Quito to shelter a common criminal who been duly convicted by the highest Ecuadorian courts of very serious corruption-related offences," Andres Teran Parral said.

"It is abundantly clear that Ecuador's sole concern the entire time was to ensure that a person convicted for serious corruption offences be brought back to justice," added Alfredo Crosato Neumann, another of Quito's lawyers.

Ecuador's rare incursion on diplomatic territory sparked an international outcry, and led Mexico to break ties with Ecuador and pull its diplomats out of the country.

 Emergency measures 

 Lawyers and representatives from both countries crossed legal swords before the ICJ on Tuesday and Wednesday, where Mexico has filed a case against the South American nation.

Mexico has asked the judges at the ICJ -- which rules in disputes against countries -- to hand down a number of emergency measures while the case proper will be heard at a later stage.

Those included "immediate measures" to protect its embassy and diplomatic premises in Quito and to "allow the Mexican government to clear diplomatic premises and the private residence of diplomatic agents."

On Tuesday, Mexico's representatives told judges at The Hague-based ICJ that Quito's raid "had crossed a line" setting a "disconcerting" precedent in diplomatic relations.

In its application, Mexico also asked the court to suspend Ecuador as a member of the United Nations until it issues a public apology "recognizing its violations to the fundamental principles and norms of international law".

It also wants judges to declare that the ICJ was the "appropriate judicial body" to determine a state's "responsibility... to initiate a process of expulsion" from the UN.

Mexico based its application on the principles of the UN Charter as well as the 1948 Pact of Bogota -- which obliges its signatories to solve disputes through peaceful means -- and the 1961 Vienna Convention which guarantees protection for diplomatic staff.

  'Blatant abuse' 

 Ecuador on Monday filed its own case against Mexico making a similar argument that Mexico City "blatantly abused" its diplomatic mission to harbour Glas.

Judges are now expected to take a few weeks mulling Mexico's request for emergency measures, but the proper case may still take months or even years.

Ecuadoran President Daniel Noboa has defended the embassy raid as necessary to detain Glas because he posed a flight risk, saying he was willing to "resolve any difference" with Mexico.

"Ecuador has given assurances to Mexico to respect and protect the facilities of its diplomatic mission in Quito... as well as the assets of the private residences of its diplomatic agents," Ecuador's Teran told reporters after the hearing.

But Ecuador's own National Court of Justice ruled just over two weeks ago that Glas's arrest was "illegal and arbitrary".

The high court however announced that Glas would remain behind bars pending criminal investigation.

Lawyers for Glas are seeking his freedom after filing a writ to the court and seeking that his detention be declared illegal.

Glas, who served as vice president from 2013 to 2017, faces graft charges stemming from his time in office.

The raid came hours after Mexico granted Glas's request for political asylum.

Several Latin American states, Spain, the European Union, United States and the UN chief have condemned the embassy intrusion.


AFP


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