May 28, 2014

There's no political persecution here.

Mr Mahuad, a lecturer at Harvard University, is wanted in Ecuador over allegations of embezzlement during his time in office in the 1990s.

The former president, who denies the charges, fled Ecuador after a coup in 2000 and moved to the United States.

During a banking crisis in 1999, Mr Mahuad froze bank accounts and replaced the Ecuadoran currency with the dollar.

The government blamed the former president for the events – which saw more than 20 banks shut down – and started a lawsuit against him in 2000.

In 2011, Interpol rejected Ecuador's first request to issue an international warrant against Mr Mahuad, arguing it was a "political case".
'No political persecution'

But on Tuesday the Ecuadoran Interior Minister, Jose Serrano, welcomed the eventual inclusion of the former president's name on Interpol's wanted list.

It means Mr Mahuad may now be detained and extradited to Ecuador to face charges which could see him jailed for between eight and 12 years.

"There's no political persecution here. What Ecuadoran justice seeks is the punishment of common criminal acts," Mr Serrano told reporters in the capital, Quito.

Mr Mahuad took office in January 1998, as Ecuador was dangerously close to war with neighbouring Peru over border disputes.

But months later he signed a peace deal with his Peruvian counterpart, Alberto Fujimori.

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