Interpol issue alert for Ecuador ex-President Mahuad

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Jamil Mahuad, Quito, Jan 2000Image source, AP
Image caption,
Mr Mahuad took office in January 2000, but was ousted in a coup just over 500 days later

Interpol has issued an international alert for the former President of Ecuador, Jamil Mahuad.

Mr Mahuad 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 1999 banking crisis, Mr Mahuad froze bank accounts and replaced the Ecuadorean currency with the dollar. He was ousted by a military coup in 2000.

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 Ecuadorean Interior Minister, Jose Serrano, welcomed the 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 Ecuadorean 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.

The decision led to both being nominated for the Nobel peace prize.